How many times a day do you eat while pretending like you’re not eating?
Cutting small slivers off of the cheesecake sitting in your fridge each time you pass by.
Eating the pieces of broken cookies in the break room, before you run off to your fourth meeting of the day.
Eating a slice of cinnamon streusel coffee cake while you read articles or check Facebook on your phone, and realizing suddenly that the whole piece is gone. How did that happen?
When you do any of these things, you aren’t Eating For Real. Instead, you are eating while, on some level, denying that you’re eating, because you are not paying attention to your food and really experiencing it.
So many of us do this in small ways, and figure that it’s harmless. But stopping that habit has the potential to be a game-changer.
Eating For Real is one of the core topics that I talk about with my clients, and it means:
- Eating sitting down in a calm environment
- Eating without distractions. Distractions include your phone, the internet, books, newspapers, or intense or anxiety-provoking conversations
I know, I know, I can already hear your objections. And I have something to say about them below.
But let me start by explaining why Eating For Real is so deeply, incredibly important:
When you eat for real, you eat less and you enjoy food more.
When you eat without paying attention (because you’re grabbing a handful here or there, or because you’re watching TV or doing something else while you eat), you aren’t paying attention to your body or to your food.
This is huge.
When you don’t pay attention to your body, you eat more because you aren’t as closely attuned to your hunger and fullness.
When you don’t pay attention to your food, you don’t get true satisfaction from it. I can eat three chocolate chip cookies while I’m reading a great book, and it will be pleasant, but I won’t really enjoy it.
But if I sit down, break off a piece of a chocolate chip cookie, and really let it melt in my mouth, I can get more pleasure from three bites than from three whole cookies.
And this is important, too, because when you pay attention to your food and your body, you naturally choose better foods. That stale biscotti that you grabbed from the break room? Those six “fun size” pieces of Easter candy? Really? Would you actually be eating them if you were Eating For Real?
Maybe. Maybe you’d have one biscotti or two pieces of candy. But you’d probably realize they were not-so-great pretty quickly and then move on with your life.
I want to say this again because it’s so wild and crazy and amazing and simple: When you eat for real, you naturally eat less, enjoy food more, and eat healthier.
Amazing, isn't it? It should be a fake scam. But it’s not. It’s just putting distractions away while you eat.
I can already hear your objections. But I’m busy, Katie. But I have so many meetings and no one takes lunch breaks and I love to go online or watch TV while I eat, so you are you seriously going to deprive me of that? And does this really matter?
To which I have two things to say:
1. If you're eating in a way that makes your body feel good, makes you happy, and keeps you fulfilled in life, keep eating that way.
But if you’re here and we’re talking, you probably don’t like the way your eating is affecting the rest of your life.
2. Are you seriously considering giving up all sugar or joining Weight Watchers or going Paleo, but you won’t first try just PUTTING DOWN YOUR PHONE AND SITTING DOWN AT A TABLE?
I’m sorry for the all-caps, friends, but I feel really strongly about this. I know what it feels like to be desperate and convinced you need to lose weight and get your food stuff under control. I know what it feels like to obsessively Google diets or keep being convinced that you need to do something extreme to “deal with” your eating and weight.
But let’s be honest here. Let’s have a heart to heart.
Eating For Real is the low-hanging fruit.
You get to eat when you’re hungry and you get to eat what you want. It is literally the best diet in the world. The only thing is that you have to take a 10-minute break in checking Facebook on your phone or looking at your screen or whatever to eat some freaking food. Tasty food! Food that you enjoy!
So that’s my challenge to you this week: Eat food while you are only eating food. Make at least one meal this week a quiet food experience. Eat something delicious, and let me know how it goes!