CAN I FINISH MY JELL-O FIRST?

My sister, Peggy Stevens, has a lifelong friend, Diane Grant in Salem, S.C., who was leading a group considering possible ways to lose weight. Her last suggestion was the one Peggy found herself thinking lots about.   “Eat mindfully.”    

It makes a lot of sense, eating mindfully. It can mean eating slowly, thoroughly enjoying each bite and putting down the fork between bites. It can mean thinking about what you are doing as you put food on your plate – making a considered decision about the size of a serving.     

If losing weight has been on your mind, it may mean drinking several glasses of water at the start of a meal. In short, it means thinking about what you are doing at the time of each meal, during the time between meals and when taking each bite.

Sugar and sweets are the nemesis for many who are overweight. If you eat sweets, decide ahead how many cookies, how much ice cream or how large a piece of coconut cake you will eat. Just a sliver may be the answer to that third question.

Two ideas about food shopping also come to mind.  Shop around the outside aisles of the store. Most of the sweets and chips are down the inner aisles and the best foods for a person are the fruits and vegetables that tend to be on the outside aisles.

Eating mindfully also means making a list before you go to a store, and sticking to it when you are in the store.  That two-word statement is really a state of mind – an all-day- long state of mind or a mind-set.

      The opposite of eating mindfully is eating compulsively, eating inattentively or eating heedless of the consequences. 

Eating lots between meals is a problem for many trying to lose weight. Snacks pose a particular problem for some of us who can eat in no time an incredible number of peanuts, a large bag of Cheetos or five tasty little containers of yogurt in a row. 

Once I ate a whole package of Oreo cookies while lying on my mother-in-law Katie Hutchison’s family room floor watching a Braves game. First one, then another, then another – on and on until I had eaten 20 or 25 cookies and was loving every moment of it!   

Now about that Jell-O: it’s a true story that I told in this column a year ago. It’s another Diane Grant story.  She and her sister, a nun, were at the bedside of their mother, who was close to death. They had been praying with her. For a long while she had been eating almost nothing. Diane asked her mom if she was ready to die. Her mother came back with the quip: 

“Can I finish my Jell-O first?”

A resident of Tiger, Robert A. Hatcher, M.D., is professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Emory University School of Medicine and senior author of “Something Nice to Do 365 Days a Year.”