What’s The Deal with Distracted Eating?

Have you ever caught yourself getting comfy on the couch with a bowl of snacks or a meal and flip on the tv? Or you sit down at the table and eat so dang fast that you aren’t actually sure if you’re full or not? Before you know it the entire bowl or plate is completely gone and you have no idea what just happened. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone! Hello there, distracted and mindless eating! Distracted eating happens anytime your brain isn’t completely focused on your food (which, for most people is most of the time).

The opposite of distracted eating could be described as “mindful eating.” Mindful can be defined in several different ways- but basically it means eating in the moment and using all of your senses- every meal (or snack) is eaten with attention and intention. Mindful eating doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to restrict what you eat- it simply means that you are 100% aware of what is going on in your mouth and how it tastes/feels/smells, etc. Mindful eating does two really important things: it helps you to truly enjoy/savor every bite and it helps bring back your control over your food (rather than letting the food control you and your behavior). Mindful eating requires just one thing: awareness. It’s not a diet or a prescription. It’s just a skill that you can practice and get good at. Just like any other skill, it takes time, effort, and attention to get good at it!

Want to start practicing? Here are a few things that you can try!

  1. Sit down while eating
  2. Put away your phone or book and turn off the TV
  3. After each bite choose one word that could describe the food
  4. Put your utensils down after every bite (this prevents just shoveling it in as quickly as possible)
  5. Before you serve seconds, pause and gauge your hunger level on the hunger scale (aim to stop eating when you’re around a 5 or 6)

Just like with anything else, to get good at mindful eating takes practice, practice, and more practice. This isn’t something that can be learned right away but it CAN be learned with some effort. When you get good at mindful eating you’ll naturally be able to gauge your hunger level, stop eating when you are satisfied, have a healthier relationship with food, avoid stress eating, and feel full on a smaller amount.

If you’re thinking, “Hey! I like the sound of that. Where do I start?” The best place to start is by asking yourself some (or all) of these questions and then set a small SMART goal to start practicing!

  • What would mindful eating look like in my life?
  • When I imagine someone that is a mindful eater, what kind of habits do they have?
  • What meal or time of day should I start practicing mindful eating first?
  • What are some possible advantages to mindful eating?
  • What would motivate me to practice mindful eating?

Making changes takes persistence and a recognition that you won’t be perfect as you try to incorporate this new skill. The most important thing is to give it time and remind yourself often why it’s important to you. Things won’t change overnight but they will change! This upcoming week is Habit Week #1 where will focus on distracted eating- head over to Instagram (@eatcolorsweatglitter) for more details!