I have a confession to make. I’m a Standing Snacker. I know that I should sit at a table and focus on what I’m eating, but I’m usually doing something else at the same time. Unless I pay attention to what I’m putting into my mouth, before I even know it, I’ve polished off my whole plate of tortilla chips and salsa or tiny bowl of pretzels. Then I feel resentful, because I didn’t even get to enjoy it!
Ever since I made my lifestyle change and integrated snacks into daily routine, I haven’t been able to kick the standing snacker habit. So much so, that when I was testing a name for my blog, The Standing Snacker was one of my top choices, as a way to convey how difficult it is to deal with food issues and break unhealthy habits.
I have made some progress in terms of being more mindful of what I’m eating. I used to eat breakfast and lunch at my desk when I was at school. Now, I sit at a separate table and make sure I have something to read that’s not prep for my next class. When we got married, my spouse was used to eating lunch and dinner in front of the T.V. It took a few years, but I finally persuaded him that eating at the table was a much more pleasant and satisfying experience.
And it is possible to break bad habits with some work. The worst habit I broke (okay, mostly) and particularly detrimental to managing and sustaining weight loss was eating out of open bags and containers. To read about my strategies for dealing with that issue, check out Drop that Bag!
Another bad habit that took some time, but I managed to break for the most part, was eating too quickly. I realized there were really two things that led me to eat too quickly. One was waiting too long to eat and being so starving hungry that I would just jam food into my mouth as quickly as possible. That’s actually a terrible way to deal with extreme hunger pangs because it takes time for your stomach to register that you’ve sent food its way, so it transmitting distress signals to your brain screaming “Feed Me!”.
A second reason was that I frequently felt rushed in my life, which is why a lifestyle change involves more than just addressing a specific food-related issue. Instead, it requires a holistic approach to remaking how you want to live. For me, that meant setting aside meal times to focus on what I was eating. I used to be terrible about this before my lifestyle change, but got better as I worked on it.
Most of the time, I read while I eat. Even with dinner, Michael and I having something to read. We spend a lot of time together, I’m pretty boring, and we both love to read. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m more focused on the book than what I’m eating, and work to redirect my attention and really savor the food.
Not too long ago, it happened that the book I was reading had a section about mindfulness eating. This was a great reminder to think about what I was eating by employing all of the senses from how the fork feels in your hand to how does the food smell. I particularly try to remember that advice when I feel rushed. A side benefit is that I find I’m likely to eat less when I really pay attention.
As part of living a healthier life, figure out how you can enhance your eating experiences. Maybe you’re not guilty of standing snacking, but are likely things you’d like to improve. The key is to identify and strategize.