You have probably heard of 'Mindful Eating' and can think of a few ways to accomplish it off the top of your head. But before you assume that I am going to suggest eating with your eyes closed, chewing each bite for 5 minutes, or eating with chopsticks to slow yourself down, keep reading.
If you are unfamiliar with 'Mindful Eating' it is a practice of being aware of the foods we eat during a meal and how they affect us. There are mindful eating retreats, webinars, classes and publications galore with loads of information to help you master this practice. But for those with hectic schedules, limited time, and more pressing priorities, I am going to offer a slightly different approach. We may not have the time to do a complete overhaul of our eating rituals, but we can play a bit of catch up and STOP this infectious problem I like to call 'distracted eating.' I am not suggesting that we avoid dining with friends or forgo great dinner conversation, I am talking about the majority of our daily meals. Are they eaten in a rush, or while you are looking at your screen?
I am hugely guilty of this myself! Whether we are eating at our desk while on a conference call, eating in the car navigating traffic, or quickly stuffing down a meal while rushing kids out the door for carpool, we receive little to no satisfaction from the food we just ate. The next thing we know we are wanting more food because we seemingly missed a "meal.' Try to avoid doing anything other than eating during mealtimes.
Listen to Your Body
Obvious, I know, but worth mentioning. When we truly listen to our body, we know when we are full and we can stop eating. When we listen to our body we also know if we are merely thirsty or bored. We do not listen to our body when distracted.
Eating when our emotions tell us to eat is also a form of distracted eating. This is a dangerous zone to tread in, as long after the body should be full, the emotions still linger. This creates an unhealthy cycle trying to become 'full' or emotionally fulfilled. Food cannot solve emotional dilemma.
Analyze Your Meal When Eating Alone
As you savor each bite... every smell, slow down and think about WHAT you are consuming and what it is doing for your body. Where did it come from? What are the ingredients? What is the nutritional value? How does it make you feel? Keeping your thoughts based on the meal you are eating, can ward off outside stress or to-do lists piling up in your head that can cause potential overeating or emotional eating.
Have you ever been going about your day, but as soon as you walk by the cookie jar or candy dish your stomach suddenly gets extreme hunger pains? Put all of the less-than-healthy food AWAY...out of sight in cabinets and the refrigerator. On the flip-side, keeping a jar of fresh water, a bowl of fruit, or a basket of veggies on the counter can be a helpful
We cannot listen to our body's signals when we are distracted. We cannot genuinely enjoy our meals and snacks. While eating, simply just sit, and eat, and enjoy.