Today I had a hot, sexy lunch date … with my plate. I’m participating in Body Love Blueprint — an online body love course led by Kate at With Love, Kate — and our homework this week was to plan a date with our plate. To eat a meal alone — sitting down — without any distractions (no phone, no computer, no TV, no podcasts, no catalogs/junk mail to skim through, etc.) for 30 minutes or as close to that as possible. I make a conscious effort for our family to eat dinner at the table with no distractions. But to eat a meal by myself with no distractions?! I couldn’t tell you the last time I did that. And I’m guessing the majority of you out there feel the same way.
It’s interesting, though, because I remember my grandma eating meals by herself without distractions. She lived with my family for a bit after my grandpa died, and she’d get up in the morning, make herself breakfast, sit at the table and simply eat. Even when she was back to living on her own, I’d sometimes go to her apartment and catch her in the middle of her lunch or dinner … that she was eating at the table with no TV, no newspaper, no nothing. And I was always amazed she could do that. But here’s what I found out today: I can do that too.
To be honest, I really didn’t want to do this homework exercise. I was thinking how I only have a few hours this afternoon while my daughter is at preschool, and I’m going to spend 30 of those precious minutes just eating?!?! The productivity bone in my body started screaming in pain at that thought. To add on to that, my daughter was sick yesterday and stayed home from school all day, so let’s just say I didn’t get much done yesterday. But I had literally written this “date” in my calendar, so I decided to stick with it. As I sat down at the table, I could feel actual anxiety in my stomach. Anxiety about doing nothing while eating. It seems crazy but we are SO conditioned to multi-task, work through our lunch hour, be on five million devices, that it can feel foreign and unsettling to just “be.” So, before I began, I took three big belly breaths and it helped a bit.
Without the distractions and the intention to eat slower, I noticed elements of my salad more than normal. Like the crunch of the pumpkin seeds and the water releasing from the cucumber as I took a bite into it. I also noticed that when I went to drink water, it wasn’t just to satisfy my thirst but it was to cleanse my pallet. It might sound gross, but I noticed the food residues more on my teeth, tongue, etc., and the drink of water cleansed that. I also stopped eating earlier than I would have expected, meaning there was still salad on my plate. Any other day, I don’t think I would have stopped until the salad was gone. When we aren’t distracted, we can pay more attention to our hunger and fullness cues, and I was able to do that. There might have been a hint of boredom mixed in as well but I think that’s OK to notice too. Food should be pleasurable/satisfying but if we’re distracted, we can’t even tell when the pleasure decreases.
I didn’t make it 30 minutes, but I made it 18. And I’m proud of that. Mindful eating is something I’m going to continue to work on so I can have a better mind/body connection and also to help with digestion. Although it was a bit of an awkward first date, I definitely am going to have a date with my plate again.
Do you eat without distractions? If so, how has it helped you? If not, want to give it a try?!?