Do you struggle with craving more food, even when you’re already full? What if it isn’t more food you’re craving, but more connection – with yourself and others?
An epidemic of loneliness
Many people I work with struggle with cravings for more food, especially after dinner when they’re sitting in front of the TV. There are many reasons people crave food in the evenings, including boredom, loneliness, fatigue, reward, stress, and habit.
Eating in the evenings seems to have become even more common over the last couple of years. The isolation people have experienced leaves them with a craving for connection they often mistake for a craving for more food.
A craving for connection
There’s a beautiful word used in Spain, sobremesa, that literally translates to “over the table.” Sobremesa refers to the time after a meal when family, friends, and even business associates linger and savor conversation and one another’s company over the table while their meal digests.
Not surprisingly, in a culture of fast food, Instagram, and Zoom meetings, sobremesa has no direct English translation. Too often we are distracted from our food, our body’s signals, and even the people we are eating with. We then rush to the next activity, which we will also likely do mindlessly.
It’s no wonder that we can clean our plates and feel stuffed but unsatisfied, leaving us longing for more.
What if the “more” we are craving isn’t more food, but more connection, more sobremesa? How would it feel to sometimes give ourselves permission to slow down, linger, and connect for a while after our hunger is satisfied?
Could this gap between eating and the next activity leave space for connection, curiosity, or simply being?
Full belly, happy heart
As I was learning about sobremesa, I came across another Spanish phrase that resonated with me, panza llena, corazón contento, which means “full belly, happy heart.”
What I know through my personal and professional experience is that food eaten in haste, in secrecy, or in tandem with two or three other activities, often leads to an uncomfortable fullness and an unhappy heart.
Food enjoyed mindfully is far more likely to lead to contented fullness, leaving space for a happy heart that can only come from our connection to the food, ourselves, others, and the abundance available during this season and year around.
Set your intention for more connection during the holidays
It happens every year… I’m shocked that the holidays are already here and a little grumpy about the extra demands I’ll need to squeeze into the margins of an already full life.
Then every year, I am suddenly “in the spirit” and enjoying “a few of my favorite things” (see!).
Our “kids” are grown now, so we’ve been able to scale back to only the essentials. For me, those revolve around connecting with family and friends. Sobremesa perfectly describes what I love most about the holidays (and why I detest all of the “how to prevent holiday weight gain” articles bombarding us and distracting us from enjoying our food mindfully and fearlessly).
Amid the busyness, the chaos, and the commercialism, people make the time to attend (or even host) a party or a gathering. Once the food is served, it’s finally time to focus on the point of it all: being together. Perhaps we’re finally with family members we talk to regularly but don’t often really listen to. Maybe we’re with friends who are as busy as we are, so even when we see them, we sometimes forget to really see them. Or, we might get to spend time with people we’ve just met, yet who stimulate new thought and laughter.
This time spent over the table is the most precious time we have during the holidays!
Make connection a daily occurrence!
In Spain, la sobremesa is a daily occurrence, not an annual event. And I love that!
My intention during this lovely holiday season and beyond, is to be more mindful about one of the most important ways we nourish ourselves: through the relationships we nurture over the table.
This is a picture of my patio, one of my favorite places in my home here in Arizona, especially during our cooler weather. It occurred to me that I love this space because when I plan to eat on the patio, I am intentionally making space for the sobremesa.
And while it is not realistic or even necessary to eat with others or linger over the table after every meal, I hope you too will create space during and after your meals to connect with yourself and those you love.
This article is updated from a previous version.
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