Do You Do This When You Eat?

On my way to the market the other day, I passed a guy walking down the street while eating from a takeout container.

At the market café, I noticed every diner was staring at a laptop or phone.

While shopping, a woman passed by me pushing a cart while snacking on a bag of chips.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

When was the last time you just ate when you ate?

The Downside of Distracted Dining
When we dine while distracted—that is, eat while working, watching TV, reading, texting, driving, folding laundry, etc.—we miss out on fully experiencing the pleasure and satisfaction food can provide.

We are also completely disconnected from our body's internal cues of hunger and fullness.

Researchers have found that distracted diners are more likely to:

  • Eat faster
  • Overeat
  • Feel considerably less full
  • Not recall eating
  • Experience more cravings
  • Snack more
  • Desire larger meals later in the day

I Always Want More
When I multitask while eating, I’m unsatisfied when I look down at my empty plate. I want more food even though I’m no longer physically hungry.

I also feel a brick in my stomach from eating too fast, not chewing and overeating.

Plus, it’s disappointing when I’ve taken time to prepare a yummy meal then don’t take time to truly savor it and barely remember eating it.

Show It Some Love!
Many of us say we love food, yet we don’t show it any love when eating it!

What would happen if you ditched the distractions, slowed down and gave your food your undivided attention? 

Try picking one meal or snack a day to eat more mindfully. Note any differences in how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.

You may feel restless or bored at first, but I promise you, the results will be worth it.

“At its most essential, the apple you hold is a manifestation of the wonderful presence of life. It is interconnected with all that is. It contains the whole universe; it is an ambassador of the cosmos coming to nourish our existence. It feeds our body, and if we eat it mindfully, it also feeds our soul and recharges our spirit.” 
―Thich Nhat Hanh, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

Fast Eater? 10 Simple Slow-Down Tips

Do you wolf down your food?

If yes, you're not alone.

In our fast-paced culture, most people are speedy eaters. (If you’re not sure, click here.) 
 
Eating fast is a major stressor on your body. Not only does it agitate your digestive system, leading to gas, bloating, cramping, acid reflux and the like, it also compromises your body’s ability to effectively absorb nutrients and metabolize food. 
 
Rapid-fire consumption can also lead to overeating, binge eating, cravings, low energy, cruddy sleep and other unpleasant side effects. 
 
Is eating fast worth feeling like crap? 
 
How to Put the Breaks On
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Here are 10 simple tips to help you put the breaks on your fast eating: 

  1. Unitask. Only eat when you eat. Don’t watch TV, send texts, answer emails, fold laundry, drive your car, etc. You can’t pay attention to how you’re eating if your head is somewhere else.
     
  2. Sit at a table. Doing so tells your brain it’s mealtime, enabling it to better prepare for the incoming food. Eating while standing at your kitchen counter or walking down the street splits your attention diverting resources away from the digestive process. 
     
  3. Make time. Allocate more time for your meals so you’re not forced to rush—at least 20 minutes, ideally longer.
     
  4. Give it a rest. Set down your fork, spoon, sandwich, taco, pizza slice, etc. and rest your hands in your lap in between bites of food. 
     
  5. Chew thoroughly. Most folks chew a bite of food about five times before swallowing, which is most likely not enough, unless you’re eating mashed potatoes. Take smaller bites and try chewing each bite to smoothie consistency. Research shows chewing more leads to eating less and lowers ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone.
     
  6. Eat with your non-dominant hand. It will feel awkward, but it will definitely slow you down. So will eating with chopsticks if you suck at using them, like I do. 
     
  7. Sit next to a slow eater. Try to match his or her pace. 
     
  8. Take a few deep breaths. Before you dive into your meal, take three slow, deep breaths. Repeat a few times through out your meal. Doing so will slow down your pace and shift your body from the stress response to the relaxation response, the optimal state for digestion and metabolism.
     
  9. Play slow, mellow music. Just as fast-paced tunes encourage fast-paced workouts, they also encourage fast-paced eating. 
     
  10. Forgo fast food. It's designed to be eaten fast.

Your first attempts at eating slower may leave you feeling bored, restless or frustrated. Stick with it. Over time, it will become second nature. As I've seen with myself and with my clients, the results will be worth it.