Mindful Eating

What do you do while you eat?

Do you watch Netflix, play with your phone, drive, work at the computer, walk, read a book? 

Does it feel strange to sit and eat a meal slowly, without any other distractions? 

I spent most of my life as a distracted eater. Tom and I watched a Netflix episode during dinner and worked on the computer during lunch at work. All of a sudden I would look at my plate and my food would be gone- and I wouldn't even remember enjoying it! Then my greedy little gut bacteria would demand seconds because I had eaten so quickly that my satiation signals couldn't catch up. 

One time I was so into a movie (rather than my meal) that I bit aggressively onto an empty fork and chipped my tooth! 

Almost two years ago we committed to mindful eating. At first it felt strange- dare I say boring? It seemed like it took forever just to finish a meal. 

Honestly, it took a few months for mindful eating to feel normal. But eventually I learned how to tune into my my body's hunger and satiety signals. I started eating less, not because I was trying, but because I was satisfied sooner. 

At work I take a true lunch break. After a walk outside I turn on classical music. I seat myself in a patch of sun streaming in from the window, far away from the computer. I take time to appreciate my meal: the bright colors and crispness of veggies, the creaminess of an avocado, the richness of salmon. 

To be fair, we don't ALWAYS eat this way. Last night we decided to splurge and watch a movie during our weekly date with wine and a cheese plate. I ended up eating far too much. I completely ignored my full feelings.  The result was a stomach ache, disrupted sleep and a cheese hangover this morning. 

The positive is that this experience was a great reminder of why I don't eat this way anymore. 

I've been talking to my high school Health students about mindful eating. I honestly wasn't sure that my words would penetrate their teenage brains. I was pleasantly surprised when a student stopped me in the hallway and swung a bag of Jelly Bellys in front of my face. 

She explained that she'd been busy popping them into her mouth, but then she stopped to think about what she was doing. She realized that the jelly beans didn't even taste that good, and she didn't know why she was eating them. She was in the process of looking for a friend to give them to. 

So, if a teenager can practice mindful eating, I know you can too! Try it for a week and let me know how it goes!