In our hurried, plugged-in society, it isn’t uncommon for meals to take place in front of a computer screen or television, or to consume snacks while multitasking around the house or office. But, as Kyla Zehr, RDN, shares below, all of this eating in passing can take quite a toll on your well-being (and your waistline).
Are you in such a rush all day that you lose your connection to the present moment? You’re not alone. Many of us forget to pause and really notice our surroundings, feelings and thoughts. But all of this autopilot is piling up, and the result is a host of negative effects on our stress level, relationships, memory and health.
Eating without awareness leads to overeating, poor choices and less enjoyment. We’ve all paired food consumption with distractions like checking emails or social media, watching television or videos, and so forth, but what we don’t realize is when we do this we’re dissolving our connection to our body's true sense of hunger or fullness. We think we’re done only because the plate is empty, but perhaps our body was satisfied several bites back. To make the situation worse, our culture promotes rushed meals and our population has developed a tendency to use food as temporary relief for emotions like boredom, stress and guilt. It’s safe to say we have a real problem on our hands.
So, how can you become a more mindful eater?
Notice your body’s cues. Consider whether you are experiencing signs of true hunger (growling stomach, headache, fatigue, shakiness), or you need something other than food, like rest, some movement, a talk with a friend or loved one, or some fun.
Take a pause. Take a brief, deep breath before you start eating. As you eat, notice the smell, appearance, texture and taste of the food. Slow down and savor each bite. Pay attention to when you feel satisfied but not stuffed.
Be present. Eliminate distractions and choose to be engaged in the moment.