Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Multi-Tasking Leads to Overeating

When I consume my meal while on the computer or watching television or (God help me) while on the computer and watching TV, I do not eat my food: gremlins steal it  I inhale it. Sometimes I reach that last bite and think 'where did my food go.' When that happens my natural instinct was to have seconds. If I do not remember eating it the calories can't count, right? 

Yeah no, the calories do count. I do not get to have more nor can I claim meal amnesia and refill the plate. Whether or not I pay attention to the food when it is between my plate, the fork and my mouth is kind of important to keeping the pounds off. I say 'kind of' because I am not always looking for more. Some meals I am happy to be done with the final bite so I can get on with whatever else I need to do. I do notice that it is more important to my emotional appetite that I stay cognizant of my food later in the day.

As part of my normal daily plan of eating I have an afternoon snack. I used to eat it while watching TV, reading the newspaper, a book or working in my office. Now I eat it with my attention solely on the food in front of me. The TV is off, the book is closed and the newspaper is far from where I sit. I do not talk on the phone and I am not working on the computer at that time. I simply sit and talk the time to taste my food. I notice afterwards I am not looking for more and I am not thinking when can I eat again.

I am starting to do this at dinner, too. Instead of scarfing down my meal in minutes I take the time to put down the fork and actually chew my food well. I am not putting the next bite in my mouth before I have finished swallowing the one before it. It has really given my mental appetite the satisfaction it craves without any additional food. In fact, wonders of wonders, I was able to give up the evening snack when I adopted this more mindful eating behavior on a regular basis. If I can get my husband to shut off the TV at dinner perhaps there will be a whole new level to this behavior of mindfully eating dinner.

If you are thinking eating mindfully is too hard for you because your natural tendency is to apply the shovel to your face and think about it later I ask you to look at this two guys. Here is a chipmunk acting on his comfortable pattern of filling his face at all costs.

Now look as this squirrel. Tired of all the comments about how he eats and how much volume he can put into his cheeks, he practices the behavior of mindful eating. See how he is almost Zen-like in is meditative pose as he contemplates his next bite. He reports that it has also been good for his digestion.

My suggestion for today is this: If you always eat while doing something else, try not doing that other thing for one meal or one snack. See how you feel after eating your food with thought and presence. Perhaps you will find yourself satisfied with less. Less is more when you are keeping the pounds off. 



Anonymous said...

Totally agree with this. I am going to try to be more mindful of eating and do it with less distraction. I have been doing it and like it, but need to continue to move forward on it. Sometimes lunch gets eaten without my knowledge. I have been putting my fork down between bites and NO teeing up my next bite while chewing one. I have also been pausing mid meal. Give my stomach a chance to catch up, take a sip of water and relax and then I am able to appreciate the next half - or not. Maybe I am full and choose to eat it later in the evening. It is a new concept for me to stop eating when I am sated and perhaps finishing later should the mood strike. Sometimes that involves adjusting my food journal. THAT used to bug me - the disorder, but I am getting over it. Funny what annoys.

Fatoutofskinny said...

I agree with you whole heartedly......and I love the gremlin photo!

Julie said...

I find that as my food changes, as I focus more and more on healthy, whole food not just that will help me get pounds off even if it is processed, I have to keep checking how much I need to eat. More protein and healthy fats mean I am full quicker than I was when eating low-fat and grains. I deliberately make myself the slowest eater at the table. I started doing that a long time ago and now it is habit (I also talk a lot!). We eat at the table every evening without television. Given it is the only meal we share and we work 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week this time is precious not to e squanderes. However, if I am on my own I find it hard not to read or watch tv while eating.

Cenandra said...

I love this post! I sometimes have a tendency to eat in front of the TV, but I have learned to cherish what I am eating because I know it has to last.

I also love the squirrel with the nuts in his cheeks.

Jane Cartelli said...

Tonight I ate too fast, in front of the TV, and I regret the feeling in my tummy now. Even though it was a measured meal I felt stuffed. I need to remember that there is no rule that says I have to eat by the TV when my husband does. If I leave the room and go into the dining room, he will, too.