His & Hers: Now you see it, now you don't

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.


The Andes Mint is the perfect example of Bob's philosophy on food consumption. I watched as he shoved it in, immediately chewed it up, swallowed and was done with the whole thing in about 10 seconds. What a waste. I, on the other hand, savored mine, letting the chocolate melt into delicate mint on my tongue.

This difference in eating, er, technique is the main reason Bob and I have never once finished a meal at the same time. I like to linger over my food, chatting in between bites and in general enjoying each meal. My family dubs this "dilly-dallying." I grew up always being the last one at the table. Bob wolfs his food down in perfect military style, whether it's a 99-cent drive-through burger or a $50 steak. He's generally the first one to leave the table.

Granted, I have my own food quirks. The first six months we dated, I ordered a club sandwich, regardless of what restaurant we ate out at. I don't know how to explain that one away. Should have been a tip-off to Bob that somewhere deep down I have a neurotic streak. And Bob is forever lamenting my pickiness (I like to refer to it as selective eating). Mainly, no condiments anywhere near my food, please. Is that too much to ask? Oh, and don't let the various dishes that make up my meal touch each other on the plate. Separate bowls, please. Lots of people have this issue; I know, I've asked.

But the speed eating issue, combined with a great dislike of tomatoes, is Bob's biggest quirk. There are many reasons to take your time over your food, not the least of which is all those studies showing that you can lose up to 20 pounds a year just by eating slower (it takes about 20 minutes for your body to register you're full). Eating slowly equals chewing your food more thoroughly, which equals better digestion.

At our house, at least on the weekends, meals are a fairly big deal. We all sit down at the table together. We don't answer the telephone. Sometimes we play a board game during the meal. And we play the, "What was the funniest/worst/best thing that happened to you today" game.

Unless he happens to be winning, Bob is still usually the first one out of his chair.


How can it take 20 minutes for my body to register I'm full if it only takes me 10 minutes to eat?

Anyway, Callie's right about my poor eating habits. When I was little, I was forced to sit at the table for as long as it took me to eat my vegetables. First, I got around this little household law by sneaking the food into the bathroom, spitting it into a tissue and throwing it away. Once caught (why I didn't think of FLUSHING it, I don't know) I learned how to swallow without tasting. Later, especially during the summers, I would gulp down my food to return to the neighborhood baseball game.

I have great memories of gathering around the dinner table as a child and teenager. Sunday dinners, especially. My mom pulled out all of the savory stops on Sundays. But generally speaking, eating was an act to be completed, not a leisurely walk down the esophagus.

Now, many of my meals are eaten on the go. Many of them in the car from one place to the next. Incredibly unhealthy, I know. I need to stop. And chew. And talk, laugh, enjoy. I'm sure I'd be happier and healthier if I dilly-dallied a bit more.

Callie Clark Miller is the special publications managing editor for the Southeast Missourian who daintily chews her separated food. Bob Miller is Southeast Missourian managing editor whose food policy is "Now you see it. Now you don't." Reach them at cmiller@semissourian.com and bmiller@semissourian.com.

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