For me, and I’m guessing most single guys, my meal ritual when I’m in my own crib rarely varies. It’s a repast reheated, especially if it’s a weekday, when life is a bit more frantic. Weekends are my cooking moments.
So, mostly, I’m grabbing a TV tray while waiting for the microwave bell, snapping on ESPN and, after retrieving the grub, sitting in the cushioned wing chair in front of the television making short work of whatever’s on the plate and marveling at the latest shooting exhibition of Steph Curry.
And, when I say “short work,” I’m talking about the entire process, from microwave to washing the single plate, knife, fork and glass, all generally completed in about 10 minutes.
Now, I’ve heard that it’s not unusual for the French to spend a couple of hours working through the courses of a meal, so, no doubt, they’d be appalled by my habit.
The fact is while fast-food is still a major part of the diet of many Americans, perhaps eating too fast may be just as unhealthy as eating too much fast-food. In studies done by the American Dietetic Association, women between the ages of 40 and 50 who eat the fastest are more likely to be obese than slow eaters.
Additionally, Osaku University in Japan monitored the eating habits of 3,000 people and found fast-eating men were 84 percent more likely to be overweight. Gastroenterologists tell us that eating too fast typically increases incidents of acid reflux because it prompts an overload of stomach acid. They recommend people take a minimum of 20 minutes to eat a meal, in other words, about twice the time it typically takes me. Additionally, slowing down allows the brain the time needed to recognize when fullness is achieved.
I think for me my rapid eating is a habit I never broke from childhood. I was fortunate to have been raised in an era when on many nights families sat down together and ate a meal. However, especially when the weather was favorable, the quicker I could dispense with that eating nonsense, the quicker I could get back outside and onto my bike or onto that game of hide-and-seek that was a summer after-dinner gloaming ritual on my block.
So, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever broken that pattern when it comes to eating even though I’ve had more than a half-century to retrain myself to slow down. There always seems to be something on the metaphorical stove that needs stirring, so the sooner I can get those reheated chicken tenders or spaghetti in me, the quicker I can tend to other matters.
If you know me very well and not just from a distance, you realize I’ve had a bit of a problem with that whole patience thing. I don’t wait well for elevators (about 10 seconds before I head for the stairs), I will not wait on a bench in a restaurant waiting for a table for even a few minutes no matter how good the grub supposedly is. And, I have done an about face at Superior Credit Union on numerous times if my “I don’t have time for this” bell dings when I enter and see a line. The patience, or the lack thereof, is the root of the problem when it comes to the celerity with which food passes through my portal.
However, in the last couple of years or so, there is one dining experience that always provides me an opportunity to slow down, actually taste the food, and live in much more civilized fashion.
Whenever I visit my old college roommate (actually he’s just as old as I am), Gary Van Cott, in Reynoldsburg and spend the night, Gary, an excellent chef, always insists on cooking, and once he’s done and a bottle of red is uncorked and it’s grub “go time,” the conversation, much of it reminiscing over those wonderful times when we were roaming Miami University’s campus, always slows down the pace of the meal. Often, before the last mouthfuls are completed, an hour or more has passed.
Also, meals shared with Lady Jane show a more casual pace as well. In many of those meals, I trot out my modest culinary skills.
So, I think that’s the key when it comes to the pace of my eating, finding someone with whom I can share the experience. I’d also be well-served to remember the words of the author Edward Everett Hale, who admonished, “Take time enough for your meals and eat them in company whenever you can. There is no need for hurry in life — least of all when we are eating.
There you have it, gentle readers, a little food for thought in this week’s offering.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.