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Minefield versus Mindful Eating


My client Andie describes dinnertime at her house this way: “I like the TV on and hate cooking, so I just fix something easy which isn’t usually nutritious, but I’m so tired when I get home from work, the last thing I want is to make dinner. My son’s usually next to me on the couch doing his homework and I try to help him while I eat and watch TV.” 

Can you spot the “normal” eating time bombs lying in wait in Andie’s description of dinnertime? I call this minefield versus mindful eating, a set up for not enjoying food yet overeating it anyway. Here are other minefields to avoid:

Eating when you’re beset by emotion. When you’re upset, you want to move toward, not away, from feelings. The goal is to find out what’s going on within you: what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and what to do with the feelings. The last thing you want is to dive into a plate of linguini and still having the distressing emotion when it’s all gone. 

Eating as soon as you walk in the door. No matter whether you had your best or worst day at work or school, it’s helpful to unwind when you get home. Unwind means consciously putting the day behind you and placing yourself in the environment of home. If you don’t do this, your mind will think you’re still elsewhere and keep focusing on it. Rushing to eat as soon as you step inside your domicile doesn’t provide the transition you need to be mindfully present to appetite and food. 

Eating with people who are also overeaters. I don’t care if folks are your best friends and the most fabulous people on the planet, if you’re regularly dining with overeaters, your natural response will likely be to overeat along with them. If you’re stepping into this minefield, at least be aware of it and come up with ways to counter the pull to eat the way they do. Peer pressure and turning off your conscious mind when you’re relaxing with friends is sorely tempting, but generally has a less than positive outcome.

Eating when there’s chaos around you. This is another way to lose yourself to your environment. If Mom just came over to tell you the bad news about her recent doctor’s appointment, your boss keeps texting you about meeting a looming deadline, the baby’s crying to get fed, and the dog’s barking to go out, you won’t be in the mindset to enjoy food and connect to appetite signals. When life is swirling around you, it’s too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and disconnect from body cues, especially around food.

What are the eating minefields in your life and how can you defuse them to make them more mindful?