Thierry Hergueta explains how "to eat in full consciousness to enjoy more!

“Conscious eating can make us aware of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations”…  Thierry Hergueta is sociologist and one of the great French specialists in mindfulness.. He explains to us the method to eat in full consciousness and how to take the time to observe and enjoy the meal, while slowing down the pace. Mindfulness is really interesting for pleasure as well as for health. So, Parisian! 

Eating Brain Food

Sophie: What does it mean for you eating well ?

Eating well means taking your time, it means being in a pleasant environment. Eating well is often the quality of the presentation, it is a certain refinement. Eating well also means having personal addresses, "canteens" where you always go and where you have habits: find a certain standard, a service, etc. Eating well is also eating well at home and in Paris by going to the markets to do your shopping, because eating well is thinking about making yourself eat not necessarily always in restaurants! And in Paris you can find quality products from all countries so you can eat well in Paris.

Sans titreSophie: But… Many people eat quickly without realizing all this...

Yes… A beautiful plate allows you to use all your senses during a tasting, smell, sight, taste, touch with the texture on your tongue... how do you appreciate all this? 

Mindfulness eating ! It's full consciousness, it's tasting a dish in full consciousness. In fact, mindfulness and taking the time to feel things. And it is with the five senses that this is done. This requires a certain focus, which I will talk about later.

Sophie: So how do you eat "in full consciousness 

In front of the plate, we will first contact the feeling of hunger again and simply wait until we are hungry to eat. You can start by drinking a big glass of water, perhaps because you are thirsty, but also because you often confuse thirst with hunger. And then take the opportunity to make a small "indoor weather" point: what is the emotion that takes over? Before you satisfy him by rushing to his meal! Come on, it's time to start cooking!

With the ladle in hand, you will assess how much food you think you need to reach satiety and slide the serving onto a plate. The idea is to eat less and enjoy more. Because know it, it is the first bite of a dish that gives you the most pleasure.

Sophie: But can we do this mindfulness all the time?mindful-eating-2048x800

No of course, for example at a business lunch we should be focused on the discussion and not on the plate. So we don't have this availability to focus on tasting, pleasure, impressions and emotions. Personally when I am focused on the conversation of a business meeting it can happen to me that at the end of the meal I don't remember what I ate because my attention is on the content of the conversation and not on my plate. But we will also forget everything around the plate, the atmosphere of the restaurant, the smells, the lighting, etc. That's what it means to be focused on something. 

Sophie: So … can you tell us about the method to adopt to be fully consciousness in front of the plate?

It starts when you arrive at the restaurant and observe the setting. In recent years all the restaurants in Paris have been redone, so you have to observe the decoration, appreciate and judge and that is already a starter, it is the beginning of concentration. Then you have to smell the smell of the place, often there are artificial candles or an ambient perfume but not necessarily, so you have to concentrate on the smell of the place, if it smells like meat, if it smells like fish, herbs, wood... Then, you must also observe the space, the place where you will settle down, look at the seat and choose your body position to be comfortably seated while respecting the rules of good living and the rules of life in society. Then we also observe the noise, many restaurants have background music that can divert attention away from the focus. We observe the light which is very important, dimmed or strong. In fact, you have to concentrate so you don't get distracted.

 Sophie: You told me before that the body posture is very important why ?

Poorly seated, you can distract yourself from the focus by a position that you will change after a few minutes... Then it is to know how to look at the map to observe it to read it completely or to read it in large part before deciding to be able to make evaluations our desires. 

boire-vin-femmeSophie: Once installed properly, what should be done?

It is time to look at the menu, the titles of the dishes (today there is a lot of effort made on the name of the dishes, it is more sought after we try to create emotions with the descriptions! We no longer call a steak frites, steak frites but we will say for example "meat from the butcher on his bed of vegetables". So, the first step to take once you get settled in is to taste the menu to create emotions and desires, it's always very interesting. I love watching the cards read and immerse myself in the menu. 

Sophie: Some menus are very appetizing, you want to eat everything and sometimes the choice is extremely Limited or the name of the  dishes is not very interesting ! 

YES… The important question at this stage is to balance the meal and ask yourself the question "am I hungry", "do I want to eat a main course, or a small starter and dessert", "want originality or dishes already appreciated". So try to assess your desire and appetite in relation to the card. The question is really "what I want right now". "Do I want something light or do I want to make a real hearty meal because I didn't have lunch at lunch? All these questions we ask ourselves that are part of mindfulness. In fact, being very close to your real desires and connecting with yourself. 

Sophie: Maybe mindfulness begin when you choose a restaurant ?

Yes, the initial question would be "where do I want to go to dinner tonight", "what do I want to eat tonight, a restaurant not too noisy because I'm tired, a more intimate restaurant, or on the contrary, I've been locked up all day in my office tonight I want to see the life of the people who are happy who eat and drink, I want to be surrounded, I go to a noisier place or there is more animation".... "I want to be on the terrace where I want to be inside"... "a restaurant I'm not going to eat meat or discover a new chef." All these questions make one responsible for one's choice and open the desire and awakening, it is already a beginning of full consciousness.

Sophie: Okay, let's go back to the menu, what do we do? 

So we choose the dishes according to our real desires. And then comes the choice of wines "do I want to drink wine or not, I want white or red, water, tea...". In fact, things must not be reflexes, we must ask ourselves questions and satisfy with the most precision the desires with the choices.

Sophie: So when does the plate arrive, what should we do?

When the plate already arrives, we stop talking and observe. 

Sophie: Hard to remember doing all this! 

Distraction is the most difficult because when the food arrives we are in the middle of a conversation so it is difficult to pick up and concentrate on the plate! 

Sophie: So going back to our plate  it arrives it is in front of our eyes what should we do?

We make a stop by saying "I intend to observe my plate so stop". We stop talking, we stop listening, we stop laughing, we stop looking at the restaurant, we focus on the plate and a STOP !

STOP is a simple and easy method to use tool to fight against attitudes and reactions in self-pilot.

S = Stop, allow yourself not to react immediately and rather to think, at least for a few seconds

T = Turn your attention to your breathing, at least for the time of inhalation and exhalation

O = Observe your experience: notice your body sensations, thoughts and emotions; it is at this moment that we will use the five senses in front of the plate. 

P = Proceed or not. It means continuing to eat with great care, observing the different textures, the colors of the plate, the tastes, etc.: "Do I continue on this line or do I resume my conversation"... the poor plate is forgotten and we are no longer in full consciousness.  "To continue" can also mean "I want to be in full consciousness all the time during my tasting to identify the ingredients, the aromas, the herbs and all the nuances that are on my plate". 

Sophie: But should we inform the person we are dining with about our focus?

We can also share mindfulness with the other by asking the question "what do you think about your meal" in order to share the focus. 

Anyway, it's good to give a sign to the other person to make him understand that you need a little time for your tasting focus, it can be a short sentence so that the person understands what's going to happen and that he too can be invited to appreciate his plate in the same way it can be a way to initiate him. 

Sophie: ok, let's go back to our plate...

So you have to look at the colors, the presentation, when it comes to a soup there is always a smell so you have to smell (even if it is at a distance and do it discreetly). There are also the textures that are incredible. Many chefs enjoy working on the textures they put on the plate! So in concentration and mindfulness it is also necessary to observe the different materials and textures of food visually but also under the tongue. It's fun to do, by the way! 

And when you start to observe all this.... it's really interesting because you can think of the cooks, the chefs who before starting to cook the dish, he thought of all these details of texture and taste that go together. Besides the respect for the chef's work, it's incredibly interesting. At this stage we reach the tasting of tastes, those that are obvious and others that are more subtle and hidden. It is sometimes by crunching a food on the plate that you discover a hidden flavor. Tasting a plate is a very interesting job to do as if it were a great wine.

Sophie: And how do young people react to all this?

For a certain generation it is a difficult focus work but I am struck by the young people. I have two children who are between 20 and 30 years old it's amazing how interested they are in food and ingredients, recipes, etc... they are more interested in quality and their pleasure, they do competitions between young people they meet each other at each other's homes to cook they like it. And then the notion of health is also fundamental for them, they attach importance to the quality/health duo.

Sophie: What if … during the day, we have a little craving for a snack?mindful-eating

The question is, "what are you hungry for?" Does my body need energy to continue my work day? Do I have a "morale blow", do I want a chocolate cake, candy... In short, to be comforted? Or, am I really hungry? And if so, then listen to yourself and force yourself to sit down and eat it slowly and enjoy it. 

Sophie: Any last advice about "eating in full consciousness ?

Have lunch in peace! No radio, no TV, no computer, no newspapers. Once in a while, at home, or on a bench, in a park, have lunch alone as if you had an appointment with yourself, listening to your feelings. You will be able to take the time to look, smell and enjoy your meal and above all, to slow down your pace. Take the time to chew and place your cutlery between each bite.

To resume: I eat in Full consciousness when I do my best to:

•Be fully present at my meal.

•Focus on food by observing colors, smells, tastes &texture.

•Listen to all my body sensations. 

•Be attentive to my mind: what are the thoughts that cross my mind?  

•Watch out for distractions: reply to an email, turn on the TV, watch Instagram....

•Be aware that my emotions play an important role in my diet. What does it mean to "have a noted stomach" or to feel iris table cravings to snack endlessly and endlessly

•Be vigilant on food choices that will respect my health, my pleasure and whose ecological foot print will be lighter: favor products of plant, local and seasonal origin.

•Be grateful to nature and all those who made this meal possible, from gardener to cook!


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Catherine - Lifestyle

Bonjour, my name is Catherine. I live in the heart of Paris. I’ve always loved to travel and, over the years, I developed it into a real art: the right addresses, the suitcase, how to manage fatigue with my Parisian look! From Cannes to Antigua, from the red carpet to Pilates, I have to live up to the reputation. I have small apartments in Paris that I rent out. I love to personally welcome my guests and give them some recommendations about life in Paris “living like a true Parisian and not like a simple tourist in an elegant private suit in the heart of the city”.

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Edizione Italiana

Edita da RIZZOLI, Sophie la Parigina è una guida di stile moderna su PARIGI. Illustrata dai disegni di Alessandra Ceriani, completata da un elenco degli indirizzi preferiti dalla parigina e arricchita di ricette gastronomiche.


English Edition

Published by RIZZOLI New York, Sophie the Parisian'sis a modern life style guide about PARIS. Illustrated with color drawings, complemented by a list of Parisians' favorite locations and enriched with gastronomic recipes.

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