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Distracted Eating Increases Your Waistline

Ice CreamYou sit down at your desk your favorite treat in hand (mine would be a bowl of ice cream). You take the first bite, “Oh that’s good!,” you think to yourself. Then, you spot a funny video on Facebook, you watch another video and another. You look down, your treat is gone. WHAT?! Disappointment and dissatisfaction set in. “That just vanished! I better have another one so I can enjoy it.” Next, you say t yourself “What are you thinking? One is enough. You know you’re trying to lose weight.”

Do you remember what you just ate? Here the struggle over what is suppose to be a simple, natural act. How is it that food and eating have become such a common source of unhappiness? And why has it occurred in a country with an abundance of food? The fundamental reason for our dissonance with food and eating is that we’ve forgotten how to be present as we eat. We eat mindlessly.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which observed 44 participants eating a fixed lunch either playing Solitaire on the computer or with no distraction. Those who were distracted, ate more 30 minutes later as well as had a harder time remembering what they had ate 30 minutes later.

This study reinforces the need to keep an accurate food journal and to “Write Before You Bite” as well as measuring out your portions, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Your food journal should include the types and amounts of food and beverages that you consume, you can even include how you prepared your food (this will help you later if you’re on a plateau and need to review a week that you had a really good weight loss). You can even include your moods in your journal. Including your feelings will help you identify patterns in your eating, such as, eating when you are bored or sad.

Your journal can contain as much or as little information that you want. If you’re diabetic you can include your blood sugar levels to see how what you eat affects your numbers. You also can include your activity log with the time you worked out and the number of calories you have burned.

It all goes back to mindful eating. The problem is not in the food, the fat cells or the stomach and intestines. The problem is our lack of attention to what we are eating. The messages coming in from our body, from our very cells and from our heart are glanced over for something more exciting (like which celebrity is breaking up with/dating who). Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. It helps us become aware of who in the body/heart/mind complex is hungry, and how and what is best to nourish it. Mindful eating is natural, interesting, fun, and cheap.

Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarters full?

The old habits of eating and not paying attention are not easy to change. Don’t try to make drastic changes. Lasting change takes time, and is built on many small changes. What did you do today to become more mindful of your eating?

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