I sat in the sunshine on the front steps of my house. It’s finally warm enough here in New Hampshire to be outside. It’s lunch time and I’ve left my laptop, phone, iPad and any other reading material at my desk. It’s just me and my big-ass salad. No work. No distractions.
For years, I would work through lunch. I would eat quickly at my desk, prioritizing a project deadline or catching up on emails ahead of anything else. I firmly believed that I didn’t have the time, not 5 minutes or 20 minutes, to take the time to just eat. Work was too busy and I had to keep checking things off my “to do” list. Taking the time to eat was simply a waste of time. I could be more efficient and effective by multi-tasking.
During that same time, my relationship with food was all about:
· limits and restriction,
· numbing and overeating,
· shame and defeat, and
· disconnection and discomfort.
I was desperate to lose that last 5,10, or 15 pounds and I was trying every diet I could to do it. What I didn't realize at the time was that my painful relationship with food was in large part due to not listening to my body.
How can anyone tune in to hunger cues, fullness signals or how certain foods made their body feel if they don't listen?
When you don’t eat with your full attention, you are missing an opportunity to notice feedback that your body desperately wants you to have.
Now that I eat my meals with all of my attention, I leave food on my plate. After decades of overeating and binge eating, this simple habit is a small miracle. I notice when I’m no longer hungry. I no longer rush through my meals. I enjoy the taste of what I’m eating and feel much more satisfied. Eating has become a nurturing act of connection.
If you are reading this while eating your breakfast, lunch or dinner, put your fork down and push your meal away, even for a few moments.
Practice eating at least one meal a day without any distraction. Start with the meal that’s the easiest to focus completely on.
When I first started not working through lunch, it only it took me 12 minutes to eat. I quickly realized that taking this small amount of time allowed me to return to work with fresh eyes and renewed energy. I increased my productivity by giving myself this break.
Whether or not you struggle with overeating and binge eating, doing one thing at a time and being mindful is the key to fully experiencing life. Consider that taking time to simply eat a meal is a way for you to slow yourself down and enjoy a few moments in the day. Practice eating with all of your attention. It will become practice for how you want to live: fully awake, connected, and present to the warm sunshine on your face.