There was something about eating at the movies that seemed like a free pass. At home, there’s no way I would have made myself a huge bucket of popcorn and poured artificially-colored yellow motor oil on it. (Buckets at home were used for cleaning up …the other way.) And at home I never conjured a 2-quart bucket-ette of Coca-Cola, or sat down with a box of Red Vines for myself.
I also never ate Good & Plenty’s anywhere but the theatre. And I never bought huge, expensive but surprisingly empty boxes of Raisinettes, except there. And as theater movie evolved, I’d try just about anything. Rolo ice cream. Nachos, you name it.
Paying exorbitant prices for it and eating it in the dark, in my mind, somehow paid the price up front. So, I didn’t think about the calories or crappy ingredients. I settled into my seat in the dark, and ate and ate and drank without thinking about it. It was magical.
That is, until I joined a weight loss support group (PRISM).
In that program we committed to eating only nutritious food, in various phases and stages. And we wrote down everything we ate and computed the caloric and other values. Really, it was the other way around. We computed the calories, then decided what to eat.
At first, this totally ruined the moviegoing experience for me. Knowing that I couldn’t eat all that stuff and having been so conditioned to do it, I couldn’t concentrate on the movie itself. I kept looking around for something to stuff in my mouth or sip on. At first.
But about halfway through the first movie, I realized that this new way was not a prison. It was freedom.
How many times have you been biting into a warm, gooey snack just as they pan to the scene of the recently found murder victim. Ewwwww!
Or, the vampire is sucking blood from her neck, just as you realize the last sip on your straw is the icy bottom of your monster Sprite. Eck!
Without food in the movie theater, the experience is refreshingly about seeing the movie.
This is what doing things mindfully means. It’s not a preachy, boring way to live. It’s the opposite. It’s the liberated, totally alive way to experience what you’re actually doing. Sure, have a little food just for fun now and then. But as a way of life, it’s not very fulfilling. (Just filling!)
I was almost a little upset with peacemaker Thich Nhat Hanh, the prolific Buddhist monk. He wrote the book (with Dr. Lilian Cheungh) that I wanted to write next:
I’m okay with it though, haha! It’s a message that can’t be stated enough or in too many ways.
Eating mindfully is part of our spiritual path. That means when we’re noticing what the heck we’re eating, we’re going to make better choices for ourselves and the planet. And you’re going to avoid any more of those moments when blood is dripping on the screen, just as a glop of nacho cheese lands on your chin.