Turn Off the Television! Eating Without Distractions

By Katie, 12:25 pm

When you sit down to eat, do you just eat?

Or, when you eat, do you simultaneously check your email, check your voicemail, and catch up with your DVR?

The notion of intuitive eating has taught me a lot about how to eat. One way is by eating mindfully, focusing entirely on the food and the eating process, instead of on everything but.

That means when I eat, I try really hard to do nothing else at the same time. No TV. No Internet. No book or magazine. Just me and my plate. ;-)


Before I learned about eating intuitively, this was a common occurrence for me: sitting in front of the television, engrossed in Grey’s Anatomy or What Not To Wear, I’d reach into my bag of chips and realize the contents were totally gone. And I’d wonder, “What just happened? Where are the chips???” In my stomach, of course! :roll:

I’d barely even taste the chips. One minute the bag was full, the next minute it was empty. And I didn’t even get to enjoy them! :-(

Unfortunately I think a lot of people eat this way. And when you think about it, it’s not entirely our faults. Our society teaches us – encourages us, even – to eat this way. We are a society driven by productivity; we are a people praised for getting more done. Multi-tasking is the name of the game.

But when it comes to food, the equation often looks a little something like this:

Multi-Tasking + Eating = Overeating + Under-Enjoying.

So I encourage you to try eating without distractions, if you don’t already. You might feel a little silly at first; I certainly did! My first attempts occurred while I was working at a 9-5 desk job. It seemed odd, both to me and to my co-workers, that I didn’t just eat at my desk, simultaneously browsing the Internet (or just continuing to work, as my boss probably would have preferred!).

But I pressed on. I found a comfortable area away from my desk and just ate. At first I didn’t know what to think about, because I felt like I had to be thinking about something else. But eventually I learned how to think about the present moment, which was essentially the food: the texture, the taste, what I liked, what I didn’t.

Turns out eating this way can be pretty darn enjoyable! :-D I found it relaxing and rejuvenating. During my lunch break, time actually seemed to slow down (and when does that ever happen, right???). And instead of mindlessly overeating, I learned to eat until I was comfortably full but not stuffed.  I’d get up from my meal feeling satisfied, rather than thinking, “hey, where’d my food go???”

Of course I don’t eat like this all the time. Sometimes it’s fun to eat dinner while watching a football game, and sometimes my schedule forces me to eat while cranking out a paper. But those cases are the exception, not the norm. These days I make a point of eating my meals with as few distractions as possible.

What about you? Do you try to eat without distractions, or are you a multi-tasker all the way?

8 Responses to “Turn Off the Television! Eating Without Distractions”

  1. Great post! I am too much of a multi-tasker. I’m going to try to start eating without distractions!

  2. Great post! Sometimes we’re just too busy to take time out to taste and to take notice of what we are eating:

  3. sheila says:

    Ah, I must confess I like to do other things while I’m eating, usually blog or study. I do have days though where I just want to sit, eat, and enjoy my food – those are nice days. :)

    Btw, I nominated you for a blogger award! :)

  4. I am still working on this area of intuitive eating. Right now, I am up to a couple meals per week without distractions which is better than none. It is so easy to get sucked into the internet or tv, though!

  5. Nicole, RD says:

    We’re really bad about this, but getting better! I enjoy eating with my husband and actually talking! :)

  6. Lele says:

    I give my mom a lot of credit for raising my sister and me to SIT DOWN AND EAT. Not in front of the TV, not distracted. We always, ALWAYS, ate a slow paced and relaxed dinner as a family. Actually the only time we ever ate in front of the TV was when there was a presidential election! We were political junkies from a young age :D

  7. I usually think about this and am really diligent for a few days…then I go back to watching the Today show with breakfast and so on. But I do try to eat slow and focus on the flavor rather than just shoveling it in…still not good I know!

  8. This was the one eating guideline (from Geneen Roth) that I was most resistant to. I’m still working on it, but your post reminded me to work a little bit harder! Thanks :) !

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