Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mindful Eating for Life

You know when they say something that seems bad may turn out to be a blessing after all? Well, I get it. 

A couple of weeks ago, someone who I love very much (who will remain anonymous) choked and scared the life blood out of me. In the seconds that he was choking, while I heard the gruff sounds of someone trying to cough but unable, all I could think was Call 9-1-1. Then there was a coughing heave, and he ran to me, dropping the dislodged chunk of watermelon into my hand. Frightening. 

The fact that he is now okay has taught us both a lesson. I feel compelled to share it with you. Eat seated. Chew slowly and carefully. Eat quietly. Sounds obvious, right? I mean, we've been eating our whole lives. Yet still, we all eat while driving, or talking on the phone. We shove food into our mouths while watching television. And I cannot tell you how many barbeques I've been to where I've seen kids running with hot dogs.

Eating is a skill we take for granted. We eat all the time. And while we are afraid to skydive, mountain climb, or even ski, I believe reckless eating habits pose a far greater risk. The good news is that the risks are preventable ones. 

It's so easy. Always sit when you eat. It should be your house rule, and your personal rule. Take small bites and chew well. Twenty bites is a good count, I think. Oh, and don't talk when your mouth is full. It's not pretty or responsible.

If you are mindful of how and what you are eating, you are also likely to eat smaller portions of better foods. You will be better able to taste what you are eating. I like to think about what is going into my body, how it makes me feel, whether it is salty or sweet. Mindful eating is good all around. Ask me about Kathryn's meditation on mindful eating and a raisin. It's enlightening.

About eight years ago, I was taking a class on feeding babies. The instructor, Carol, had been an ER nurse before she began teaching feeding classes. She told a story of a man who'd taken a giant mouthful of peanut butter off a spoon and attempted to eat it. The man lived alone. A few days after he hadn't showed up for work, his boss sent the police to his house to check things out. They found him dead, having choked on the peanut butter. So incredibly preventable. My God. Even if you get to the ER, they cannot dislodge or intubate through peanut butter. So please, always eat peanut butter on something (cracker, bread). 

The point I am hoping to make is this. Food is fuel, and it's nutritious. It's also a source of comfort, at times, and pleasure. Eating in a mindful, deliberate way is both satisfying and safe. Enjoy your food, one bite at a time.

For information on how to get certified in CPR, visit

Tiffany Palisi is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Fitness Coach, and Group Fitness Instructor. She has extensive training in Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness, and is a Johnny G certified Spinning Instructor. She trains women in their home, and will be doing Lifestyle Fitness Coaching in her home office (and by telephone) beginning in September. Palisi works exclusively with women. She can be reached at


  1. Wow! I had no idea about the dangers of eating peanut butter alone...yikes! I love to read your blog everyday...I always learn something new! Thanks! Angie

  2. I know. It's crazy. How many people eat peanut butter off a spoon? I love peanut butter, but now I love it on a cracker or a piece of wheat bread.