Secondary Eating. What is it and why should I care?
Simply put, secondary eating is the act of eating while doing something else such as; opening the mail, surfing the net, texting, watching TV, standing and the big one…driving. As a matter of fact, Michael Pollan, estimates Americans spend 78 minutes a day on this mindless form of eating. Wow.
3 Reasons It Matters1. FLAVOR STEAL-ER – When we engage in secondary eating we aren’t aware of the amazing flavors and textures that whole foods offer up. Have you ever had just one more serving with the excuse – I’m just eating for taste? Me too! It’s because we didn’t savor the first go round. 2. FULL METER – We often over eat because we are so out of touch with our own body that we miss the subtle messages it tries to send about satiety. Hence the popularity of the Plop-Plop-Fizz-Fizz commercials! People relate. 3. DIGESTION – Eating without being present leads to fast, even frantic, eating. Here is a simple overview of what happens. You begin the digestion process as soon as the food crosses those luscious lips of yours. While you chew, enzymes in your mouth get to work breaking the food down so your gut doesn’t have to work as hard. When you rob the gut of this help you create a slowdown in digestion. So, even though you finish your meal in record time the work isn’t over. Ever had that “I have a brick in my stomach” feeling after a particularly fast eating session? Yep, me too!
3 Tips to Tame Secondary Eating1. MINDFULNESS – This isn’t just new age gobbly-gook. Being aware and mindful in the moment has profound effect on you not just mentally, but down to the cellular level. Make meal time a ritual by slowing down and really experiencing the flavors and textures in your food. Here is a great way to practice and break the ‘wolfing’ habit. Take a square of dark chocolate – and I’m talking high end organic dark chocolate – smell it and really look it over before placing it your mouth. Put it in your mouth and just let it melt. Notice the bitter and sweet balance as it becomes molten bliss inside your mouth. It helps to close your eyes and really be in the moment. Guess what? You just meditated! Awesome, isn’t it? 2. SLOW DOWN – Once you feel the concept of mindful eating you won’t have a problem slowing down while you eat. It’s not a chore. It’s an experience. I used to think of eating as a chore, but when I implemented some of these strategies my experience changed. Same food, but my attitude toward the experience changed. When you slow down and are mindful the flavors and textures will come alive. The more whole food focused your diet is the better the flavor too! Seriously, you will be amazed. The added bonus is that the quantity you eat will diminish as well. By giving yourself a chance to hear your stomach say, “Full Already!” you will naturally cut volume. 3. CHEW THAT CUD – Cows chew on their grasses for what seems like an eternity to us. They instinctively know that chewing is their key to feeling good. Same for us. Remember the enzymes in your mouth? They are your digestion friends. Try to chew at least 15 times for each bite of food you take and you will be rewarded with easier digestion. The added bonus here is that you will actually taste your food!
I know that our harried lives don’t necessarily jive with mindful eating, but in the interest of feeling fantastic why not give it a try? Instead of gulping your morning smoothie down in three gulps take a sip and allow it to wander around your tongue before heading south. Try to not eat at your desk at lunch. Just imagine how cleaner your keyboard will be. Then make your evening meal an event. Sit at the table, use real plates and silverware and take your time. It helped me to put my fork down in between bites so I was more focused on chewing what was already in my mouth. Surprising how soon this becomes a habit. I can tell you these small simple changes will have a most positive effect on your digestion. Happy belly just ahead!