Have you ever looked down at your plate shocked to see it empty? As in, "I couldn't have possibly eaten that entire sandwich already! Who took it? Did I set it down somewhere else? Did it fall on the floor? I'm still hungry."
I've been there many times, and I'm betting you have too.
Stolen Sandwich Syndrome
I call this the "Stolen Sandwich Syndrome." And it's due to not being awake at the plate. Your mouth is going through the motions, but your mind is asleep on the job.
Most folks, myself included, can blame this on being a multitasking, distracted diner--that is, eating while driving, watching TV, reading, texting, working on the computer, folding laundry--you know what I'm talking about. The result? You're overfed yet unfulfilled.
Eating Without Eating
When you eat without presence, you gip yourself of the complete eating experience. Your body is deprived of the aroma, taste, visual stimulation and pleasure food provides. You yearn for more because your dissatisfied brain interprets this incomplete experience as hunger, even though you most likely overate because you didn't give your brain a chance to receive the signal from your belly that it's full.
Belly: Yoohoo. Hello up there. Hey, I'm talking to you. My tank is getting very full. Hello, anybody there?
Brain: Man, I love this show. I can't believe he just said that! Oh, who's texting me? Time for seconds.
When did eating stop being an exclusive activity, worthy of its own time?
Wake Up, Eat Less
When you inhale your lunch, munch mindlessly while working, and shovel down dinner in front of the TV, your body's digestive power is not fully engaged. You metabolize your food less efficiently, absorb fewer nutrients, and become susceptible to weight gain, digestive upset, bowel disorders, decreased immunity and fatigue.
By becoming more awake at the plate, you can dramatically affect your health and well-being. Trust me, I know.
Since becoming a more mindful eater, I consume less food, appreciate and enjoy my meals more, and no longer feel all gassy and bloated after dining. My post-dinner burps used to make the ground shake (just ask my family). Now, I'm pretty much burp free.
My clients, like Julie, have experienced similar results. "Since I started working with Renee, I've become more accepting and mindful. I eat for pleasure, but in a much slower, more meditative state. So far, I've lost six pounds..."
Another client, Kris, exclaimed "It's crazy how much less I eat now that I'm slowing down and actually paying attention to the food I'm putting into my mouth. Doing so has helped me bust through my weight loss plateau. It's really uncomfortable to eat quickly now and quite alarming to observe how fast others eat."
If you're sleepwalking through your meals, I challenge you to be present with your food this week. Sit at a table, settle in, ditch the media--go on a distraction-free diet (the only diet I'll ever recommend).
As you eat, pay attention to your food's aroma, texture, taste and color as well as the pleasure and satisfaction your meal provides. Try not to check out or switch to automatic pilot.
If this is new for you, it will definitely be challenging and you'll most likely curse my name (no worries, I'll still adore you). You might feel bored, irritated or restless. Be committed and patient. Approach the process with curiosity, not contempt or judgment. Savor every morsel. Stop the thief. I promise you, the results will be worth it.
Stay tuned for more mindful eating insights and tips.