Put Down That Phone! It’s Time to Eat! Focus on Distracted Eating
Distracted Eating: Here’s how to stop this frustrating habit.
Distracted eating is so common in our society today. The pace of our lives has gotten so fast that it seems indulgent to take time out of our day to eat without distraction.
A quick google search will display many articles detailing the harms of distracted eating. However, other than the message of “Don’t Do It!,” you’ll find few practical solutions to break this habit.
That’s where I come in!
Why Should I Focus on Stopping Distracted Eating?
When I work with women to guide them on their Intuitive Eating journey, one of the first things we often focus on is learning to pay attention to their eating experiences. What are the sights and smells? What does your body feel like? How full are you after a meal?
So many women find this step challenging because they eat most of their meals while multitasking, aka, distracted eating.
Are You a Distracted Eater?
If you answered “YES” to any of the above examples, you are definitely not alone! You may suffer from distracted eating.
Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to healing your relationship with food and your body. It is an internal process where women like you learn to tune in to their bodies when it comes to food and movement instead of focusing on external rules like meal plans, counting macros and drinking water to stave off hunger.]Curious about Intuitive Eating? Check out my blog titled: What is Intuitive Eating?
How Our Culture Promotes Distracted Eating
I don’t have to tell you that our culture LOVES multitasking. Being busy is praised, and it is considered virtuous to be ‘productive’ during our meals.
If you have been dieting for most of your life, it’s likely that you have not been looking for joyful eating experiences. Instead, you have likely been tuning out your here and now body while as you pine away for that slimmer, more popular woman you’ll become once you lose all that weight.
You have been eating what you were told, in prescribed quantities. Whether you were hungry or full after your meals doesn’t matter. It’s the rules of the diet plan that rule the day.
Or perhaps, you rely on food as a reward or to soothe negative emotions. Maybe, after a boring lunch, you spy a candy dish at work. It might be your favorite candy in the world but if you quickly eat a few as you walk back to your desk, you won’t really enjoy it. Instead, you might be filled with feelings of frustration and shame.
But, when you’re ready to ditch those diets and their rules,
- how will you know when you’re hungry?
- how will you know what you really WANT to eat?
TUNING IN to your body is a key part of becoming an intuitive eater.
You might be saying, “I’m with you, Kelly. That makes sense.”
But if you’re really ready to ditch the diets, you’re also going to have to start getting rid of the baggage that came along with them: distracted eating.
How Do I Begin To Reduce Distracted Eating?
Let me start by saying: You don’t have to start eating every single meal from now on without distraction.
Remember, taking small, achievable steps towards your goals makes you more likely to succeed in achieving your goals.
Here are my 7 steps to reduce distracted eating:
- Pick ONE meal or snack daily that you will commit to eat without TV, your phone, a book, or while driving. My meal is _______________________
- Pick 3 days this week that you can commit to eat this meal and put it on your calendar. I will eat ______________ without distraction on _____________________________.
- Before you sit down to eat, get a timer ready and set it to 5 minutes.
- Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and make sure your computer screen is blank. Remember to turn off any other distractions, except for perhaps some quiet instrumental music
- Start eating, noticing what it feels like.
- As you eat, reflect on your experience:
- Do you notice any sensations in your body?
- Do you notice any feelings or emotions (positive or negative)? If yes, try to name them
- Was this experience positive, negative or neutral overall?
- After the timer goes off, you can use distraction to finish your meal, if desired.
For continued benefits, continue for an additional 3 weeks, making the following changes each week;
In week 2, increase the timer to 10 minutes
In week 3, increase this exercise to 5 days per week.
In week 4, pick TWO meals or snacks to eat without distraction.
Ready to start working on this practice to reduce distracted eating?
I’ve created a printable PDF workbook just for you, with instructions, checklists and space to record your mealtime reflections.
Practice Makes Progress
This exercise may feel strange and challenging at first, but over time you will appreciate being fully present while you eat your meals.
Some expected benefits of this exercise:
You’ll start finding joy in your meals.
You’ll notice different levels of fullness.
You’ll be able to eat to a point that feels good and not overstuffed.
I hope I’ve convinced you of all the benefits of distracted eating and that you’re ready to start tackling distracted eating with this simple exercise.
Do You Also Struggle with Emotional Eating?
So many women I work with also struggle with emotional eating. Is that you???
Eating while bored, stressed, angry or tired?
Curious to learn how you can start overcoming emotional eating?
Claim your copy of my free e-book The 7 Steps to Overcoming Emotional Eating by clicking HERE.
Did you miss some of my earlier lessons on intuitive and mindful eating?
Here are some of my most popular blogs:
- What is Intuitive Eating?
- 5 Steps to Make Peace with Food: Principle 3 of Intuitive Eating
- How To Discover The Satisfaction Factor with Food: Principle 6 of Intuitive Eating
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”