Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just a little distracted

It's Sunday evening and when I get home from work, I frantically start chopping and peeling. It's the first night of 'Brothers & Sisters' since before the holidays and we do not have DVR.  Must. Cook. Faster. Tada! Dinner's finished just in time to put a plate together and make it out to the couch where I get sucked into the drama of the Walker family.  Before you know it, my plate is empty. As I go to take another bite I think, "What?!?! It's gone already??"

Sound familiar?? Today's society is overwhelmingly distracted whether by work, TV, computers, phones, people or our thoughts, its definitely becoming a problem. Suzanne Higgs is a psychologist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K and is studying how our thinking processes and our state of mind influence what we put into our bodies. Higgs recently measured the difference between people eating lunch in front of a TV or working at their computers versus those that mindfully paid attention to each bite. She found that those that ate while distracted, not only ate more but were more likely to indulge later on in the day.

 In another recent study from the University of Manchester in the U.K and Unilever, researcher Andy Woods experimented with varying levels of background noise in a dining room. He found that as it gets louder, people lose their ability to perceive saltiness and sweetness. Their perception of "duller" food leaves them unsatisfied and again,  they are more likely to indulge. The researchers  suggest that the noise may distort the brain's ability to gauge other senses.  However, when the participant liked the background noise, they reported the food was more liked. So, turn up the dinner music, light the candles, and slow down. Think about it...if this mindless eating causes you to consume an extra 200 calories/day that is 1400 extra calories/week. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound. So roughly every 2.5 weeks you could add a pound to your body. Let that happen for a year and're 20 lbs heavier.

So what is this 'mindful eating' they speak of?  Well, I learned what I did Sunday night was the complete opposite, mindless in fact. However, I don't think I need to roll a raisin around in my mouth for 20 minutes to figure it out. It's about being present. Truly tasting each bite, paying attention to the textures and flavors. Take the time to thoroughly chew your food and enjoy your meal, slooowww dooown. You deserve this time to nourish your body. I tried this the next night, lit the table candles, turned off the tv and actually enjoyed every bite I took. Yes, Dane finished waaay before me but that's OK. I felt completely satisfied with the smaller portion and didn't go back for an extra scoop or two. Another bonus, he got a head start on the dishes. :)

If you're interested in checking out some sites on mindful eating, I listed a few of the ones I looked at.

Mindful eating:

Other Sources:

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