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Distracted Eating

WE’VE TALKED A LOT about why we eat. Now let’s really consider WHERE we eat and what we’re doing when we eat. My brother eats breakfast every morning while reading the sports page. He puts the food on his plate and the meal is done when the plate is empty. This is no big deal if the portion sizes are appropriate, right? Maybe so, but I can tell you that he is not fully enjoying his food. He is eating on autopilot. What are you doing when you eat?

driving working on my laptop watching TV
talking on the phone cooking talking to my family

Have you ever gone to the movies and gotten the bottomless popcorn tub that costs $14, only to eat and eat until your mouth turns to salt? You were watching the movie and didn’t even really have a chance to pay attention to how the popcorn tasted. You didn’t notice how it made your stomach feel. You ignored fullness cues because you were fully engaged in the onscreen police chase. Studies show that when you eat distracted, you eat 30 percent more!

Today’s challenge

Your challenge for this day is to go for one day eating this way:


Your food is plated or in a bowl, and you are seated, with no distractions. Put the utensil down after each bite. Pay attention to how the food tastes, how it changes your body, and where your mind wanders.

Eating this way is as close to the opposite of mindless eating as you can get! Take note of what you realized. Journal your experience eating mindfully. Use this technique going forward. Don’t eat food you don’t like. Don’t eat food that tastes great but you are so distracted you don’t enjoy it. Here are some thoughts from a previous participant:

“I never realized how fast I ate until doing this. I also was kind uncomfortable with the silence. By dinner I was finally able to eat slow and fully engage in this practice. I discovered that temperature is a big deal to me. I don’t like things warm that should be served hot. I also was surprised that eating broccoli with no salt tasted so good. Before I would have salted before the first bite.”

After you’ve completed this exercise and journaled about what you have learned move on to the next step.