In the Hoosier hay-loft hoops world I grew up in, the “stutter step” wasn’t a flashy playground move but a reference to the short, quick adjustment step that helps set up a powerful foot plant for launching a lay-up.
For all the hours spent shooting hoops in my parents’ barn — which has since been dismantled and reassembled on an Amish farm — these days I spend at least as much time working on perfecting my eating skills.
Lately I’ve been focusing on setting up the final bite of a meal or snack in a way that helps me recognize I’m done eating.
Maybe there are some “naturally gifted eaters” out there who can pull this off effortlessly, but for me, learning to nail this bite has been almost as laborious as learning the footwork on a lay-up.
Turns out it’s a multistep process. You’ve got to deliver a couple of strategically placed nibbles to set up that final mouthful of satisfaction.
I’m not a nibbler. My impulse is to approach every bite with gusto — and way too much speed. For most of my life I’ve raced toward the end of a meal like a kid dribbling toward the hoop in an out-of-control flurry of steps, with no idea how things are going to end up.
I’d mindlessly devour French fries or M&Ms, only to reach in at some point and discover I’d emptied the bag before I’d managed to disengage from munch mode. With no warning that the end was near, I had trouble shifting gears. All too often, I simply moved on to something else.
Five years of monitoring my eating habits, learning to track every bite, gave me much more control. But I’m still prone to eating too fast. At times I find myself shoveling in salad as if it were a homogenous glop of pudding, oblivious to the variety of textures, the possibility of discovery.
Once I forced myself to slow down and focus on those last few bites, it was much easier to perceive the importance of that final mouthful in establishing a sense of completion.
Now that I realize how disappointing it is to end a really satisfying meal or snack with a crumb-sized morsel, I find that I’m much more willing to make that second-to-last bite as tiny and precise as needed to set up that final glorious mouthful.
I’m going to call it the “stutter-step bite.” And I’m adding it to my ever evolving list of key rules that govern my postfat life.