It’s hard to say what I liked best about the Green Mountain culinary experience—the delicious food itself, or the fact that I didn’t have to cook it!
What’s the food like? From breakfast frittatas, lush salads, Friday pizza, to chili with all the fixings, there was no shortage of variety in the meals I had during the three weeks I was there. But aside from the tasty food, the dining room was also a place of learning and experimentation. Here are my ah-ha moments.
1. Eating at the table is a pleasure
For a long time, I resisted meals at the table. They’d been a battlefield throughout childhood, so as an adult it felt rebellious to eat on the couch in front of the television. But it had become an unhelpful habit—I often ate mindlessly, not really tasting the food and often eating more than my body wanted.
The Green Mountain dining room was a revelation. Bright and airy, full of little tables of four with beautiful views of Okemo mountain. Flowers on the table and music in the background. And of course, the delightful company of my fellow participants. Meal times were a moment of pleasure in a busy day.
I’m working on creating that vibe back home. I cleared the detritus off the dining table (hello, cat food cans and husband’s motorcycle parts). We now eat our meals there more often than not. Dinner has become leisurely and chatty and I’m present for every mouthful.
2. Mindful eating takes practice
I’d made many attempts to eat mindfully since I first read a book about intuitive eating back in 2010, but it never quite clicked. I’d get distracted or turn it into a pseudo-diet, with my brain always questioning my body’s hunger signals.
Green Mountain gave me the freedom and calm environment to practice those skills and ideas. Without everyday stresses or the cooking or clean-up, I could really focus on the food.
I followed the daily mindful eating tips posted on the tables, trying out ideas like pausing before eating to notice with all senses what was on the plate, or putting my fork down periodically to gauge how the meal felt in my body. I viewed each meal as a practice session and by the time I went home I’d built some mindful eating muscle!
3. Keep your eyes on your own plate
I was a little frazzled for the first couple of days in the dining room. Will I like the food? I wondered. I did some comparing and despairing, worrying I’d put too much on my breakfast plate compared to others. This resulted in me running out of fuel in a mid-morning workout! After that I stopped being so nosy and got on with figuring out what was the right amount of food for me.
Lunch and dinner were also a challenge to start with. My inner dialogue babbled away: Is this plate big enough? I’m going to starve! I’m eating faster than everyone else! What’s wrong with me!?
It took a while to come back to the food and the company and get out of my head. It was interesting to notice that when I ate mindfully, the servings were filling and satisfying. That made me realize just how often I mindlessly overate at home.
4. Make it regular
I used to wonder if I’d missed some secret ninja trick for helping binge eating. Maybe I just hadn’t read the right book or found the right expert yet? Green Mountain brought home that the #1 trick that works for me is… eating regular meals.
So not a trick at all, really. I’m basically a toddler and do best when fed at regular intervals. That’s three meals a day with two snacks, at roughly the same times. By the end of my second day at Green Mountain, eating regular meals and snacks, I wasn’t obsessing about food at all. It felt miraculous.
I’ve been a chaotic eater—often skipping breakfast and living on coffee until I have a late lunch. I now see how that set me up for overeating or bingeing. Starting my day with a proper breakfast swiftly worked wonders on my energy levels and choices at other meals. Whenever I feel myself wobbling now that I’m home, I make sure I get right back to those regular mealtimes and things soon fall back into place.
5. You are not broken
After decades on the diet/binge roller coaster, I worried my body was broken beyond repair. That intuitive ability we’re apparently born with that tells us when we’re hungry or full? I thought I’d kinda wrecked that for good. But on my third day at Green Mountain, I was absorbed in a class when I felt a gentle rumble in my belly. What the heck was that? Oh! It’s hunger! Sure enough, it was fifteen minutes before lunch! It was a weird thrill to feel my body do its natural thing. Before long I was noticing the fullness signals, too. Despite all those diets, my body worked! It had things to say and now I could hear them. Woohoo!
6. Vermont is awesome at dairy!
I’ve been home for a few months now but I’m still dreaming of the luscious, creamy Greek-style Vermont yogurt that was a constant presence at breakfast. I can only imagine how great it tastes right now with some summer fruit. And of course, there’s the Vermont cheddar. I’d feel a little burst of happiness every time I came into the dining room for evening snack and saw those cheerful squares set out for us.
So I say, sure, go to Green Mountain for the unforgettable experience of learning to how to eat, move, and live with more joy. But go for the dairy, too!
Bio: Shauna Reid is an Aussie freelance writer, author and blogger living in Scotland. She writes about her life, travels and wellness journey at shaunareid.com. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.