How often do we actually take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal? Do you eat in front of the television when at home or in front of a computer when at work? When was the last time you sat down quietly at lunch and took a moment to inhale the aromas from your warm meal and really savor the flavor of that dish? Are we using our senses to the upmost fullest? I can sadly say that I don’t do this every day. And yes: it is an Excellent habit to get into and sometimes I am eating in front of my computer, continuing to work. Forgetting to practice what I preach.
So I’m writing this today to remind myself and you about the importance of being mindful when we eat. Mindful meaning taking time to eat the meals prepared and served to us. I almost always bring my lunch from home, which I’ve prepared the night before with love and care. So I also need to be reminded of caring about the actual consumption of my deliciously prepared food. And eat it free from the distractions of the daunting, glowing screen. Eat your food in the moment by embracing the flavors of the food, enjoying the textures of the food, taking in the smells and aromas of the food, and taking note of the visual aspects of the food! Actually seeing what you’re eating with all its colors and presentation.
A study was reported in December of 2010 about people who ate lunch in front of their computers actually ended up eating more later on (about an additional 250 calories worth of cookies) than people who ate lunch without distractions.1 This amount of daily extra caloric consumption post-meal can result in ½ a pound weight gain each week and 26 pounds of weight gain after 1 year! The researchers stated that the overeating was most likely due to the fact that the people in front of the computers weren’t really paying attention to what they were eating so they didn’t realize that they were full, and, therefore, consumed a greater amount of food during lunch and afterwards. 1
How powerful is that? Twenty-six extra pounds a year! A simple study to remind us of the importance of using our senses and being in the moment. So Savor that Flavor! The next time you have lunch and dinner, free yourself from distractions from a screen and remember to use your senses. Site, Touch, Taste, Smell, and even Sound. (Crunch, crunch, crunch from my crackers). Live in the moment and enjoy your food: distraction free. I hope you’re not reading this blog while eating!
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD, is a nutrition coach at Eating Free who cooks with love and loves to eat.
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- Oldham, R., Hardman, C., Nicoll, C., Rogers, P., & Brunstrom, J. (2010) Playing a computer game during lunch affects fullness, memory for lunch, and later snack intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, First published online December 8, 2010