When I was in high school, detention was the worst. Unlike the all boys school near us who got to play on their laptop computers and do homework the whole time (I’m calling you out Moeller boys), our punishment was to sit in a desk and stare at the wall for an hour in silence. Feet had to be on the floor and hands on top of the desk. This was right around the time that cell phones were becoming pretty mainstream, but texting was still relatively new, and at that time, seemed like a pointless way to communicate. Especially when you had to type using T9. Way2 hrd. Now, it’s hard to imagine an hour without some kind of screen in our faces. Cell phones might as well be glued to our hands, most of us are on computers all day at work, and then we get home and watch TV or play on our iPads.
The point of this fun, high school detention story is that staring at the wall in silence was the ultimate punishment, and now is an even bigger punishment (as we are accustomed to so many distractions) 13 years later. (Hold on while I shit my pants after doing the calculation that I graduated from high school 13 years ago). I literally did the math 4 times thinking that the numbers couldn’t possibly be right. BRB while I run to the mirror and weep over my skin’s ever dying elasticity.
Okay, back. Seriously, I’m going to focus. This post does relate to health and wellness, I promise. Hordes of people out there are unsatisfied with their current weight. If you break down all the weight loss advice out there, you come way with some form of “eat right and exercise”. Obvs. But what if HOW we eat can help shed a few pounds as well? This is where my “sit and stare at the wall” story comes back into play. How often are you eating without any kind of distraction? Most likely in front of a computer screen, phone screen, or TV screen. You pop on the latest episode of whatever you’re into and do the ‘ole zombie face shovel. You suddenly look down when you hear the scrape of metal on the plate and think, “huh, where’d all my food go?!” I have also been in one of these food shoveling blackouts. My brain typically goes into caveman mode- “Food gone. Me want more.” And I trot back into the kitchen to get a second serving, only to zone out while eating once again.
This distracted, autopilot, mechanical way of eating is not good for us! We are removed from the glorious process of tasting and enjoying a meal. We miss out on flavors, textures, aromas, and we eat too quickly. Our bodies haven’t processed that we are full before filling it with an unnecessary second helping. I realized I was in a bad habit of screen eating. So I put myself in detention- on purpose. I have been making a concerted effort to eat at my kitchen table like a civilized human being. I look out my window and observe birds and squirrels in my back yard. I do this novel thing called breathing while I eat. Oh! And chewing. I actually chew my food now instead of gulping it down like a Labrador Retriever. It’s crazy. There is a name for this deliberate way of consuming. It is called mindful eating. Here is my challenge to those of you out there who would like to lose a few pounds, have a hard time with portion control or overeating, have gas or bloating issues, or just want to feel more present or connected during your meal times:
1.) Turn off your screens. This will be uncomfortable at first. I recommend eating somewhere with a scenic view if possible. It eases the uncomfortable feeling. Join me in daily squirrel observations. You’ll love it!
2.) Make your eating place pretty. Use a nice plate. Set out a pretty napkin. Perhaps light a candle or put on some music. Get your meal time vibe on!
3.) Become conscious of your chewing. Once you pay attention to your chewing, you will realize how little you chewed before. This is an essential first step in healthy digestion. Grinding up that food with some nice saliva sends signals to your stomach that there’s stuff coming down the chute that will need to be digested. It also aids in nutrient absorption. Help out your poor, overworked stomach and intestines by doing some of the hard labor in the mouth zone. Try to chew each mouthful 30 times before you send it down the hatch.
4.) Breeeaaaattthheeeee. Our body is pretty good at doing that thing on autopilot, but mindful breathing will make you relaxed, suck you into the present moment, and slow you down.
5.) When you are finished, before you grab that second helping, wait 5 minutes. Pass the time by making a mental gratitude list, do a short meditation, talk to your pet in a weird baby voice (I know that’s not just me), work out some minor details in your plan to get Justin Timberlake to abandon his wife and run away with you instead, or talk to the loved one you are sharing your meal with. You might find at the end of the 5 minutes that you aren’t that hungry after all.
Putting myself in meal detention has been thoroughly more enjoyable than staring at the slower than erosion classroom detention clock back in high school. I have a feeling you will agree. Let me know how your meal detention goes by commenting below! Comments will be published as long as you aren’t an annoying loser spammer. Want more tips on how to upgrade your health? Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation!
I am your partner in health crime. I ask you important questions and create strategy on how to improve your performance. I help you make good choices and am your support system on this winding highway to health.