The majority of the clients I work with believe they have an overeating, binge eating, or emotional eating problem. They can’t control themselves with food and they’re horribly frustrated with themselves and their lack of willpower.
The truth of the matter, or what actually lies at the core of this so-called problem isn’t a lack of willpower or some biological defect that causes a person to eat in ways and in amounts they actually don’t desire.
Instead, if you seriously want to rid yourself of your unwanted eating behaviors, the #1 way to do it is to become truly present with your food when you eat AND s-l-o-w down the pace with which you eat.
Yup, it’s as simple as that and the first place to start. If you think you have an overeating problem, binge eating problem, emotional eating problem or lack of willpower problem, you do NOT! How great is that news?
So how do you cure your overeating, binge eating or emotional eating problem? Become hyper dedicated to only eating when you’re eating and have the meal experience last 15+ minutes (that’s only 45 minutes out of your day!)
Do N-O-T-H-I-N-G else but eat and enjoy the experience of eating when you eat. Take your time. Sit down. Savor each bite. Set the mood in your environment with good music, candles, lighting, etc. Feel the food enter your mouth, the texture on your tongue; feel the food wind it’s way down to your belly; smell the aroma; breath in deeply throughout the experience (this also catalyzes your metabolism, digestion and improves nutrient absorption). Mentally express gratitude for the food.
While this is a very simple cure, it is quite possibly one of the most difficult for adults to retrain themselves to do.
In large part, it’s because there must be a genuine willingness to experience the power of this simple practice. Most give up after 2-3 meals claiming either it was too uncomfortable or they didn’t get it/it wasn’t working. Respectfully, those in this camp weren’t actually willing let the magic happen – they gave up before putting forth a genuine effort.
The other piece to making the power of presence and slowing down be the cure to your unwanted overeating, binge eating or emotional eating problem is having patience. Let’s face it, you’ve had decades to practice your current eating habits (the one’s that aren’t working for you), so do you honestly think you can change them in a week?
I’ve been practicing being present and slowing down with my meals for nearly 2 years now and if it were a class in school, I’d be getting a B grade. And I’m thrilled with it (this, coming from someone who only ever got A’s in school and used to believe that anything less was disastrous). I’m thrilled because I’m experiencing the transformational power and the benefits. I KNOW I’m on the right path and it’s liberating. It’s a freedom with food I had never experienced in the decades of my life prior.
“Screen Apnea” is a BIG Problem
One of the BIGGEST obstacles from truly becoming present with your meals and slowing down is screen time…TV, smartphones or any digital device. There’s even a term for it now, “screen apnea”.
Oh how I love the term! This so captures what I’ve tried to explain to my coaching clients who choose to believe that a little TV/screen time while dining doesn’t impact their metabolism, digestion, nutrient absorption, amount they eat, cravings, satiety, etc. Now I have a label for it.
Here’s more on Screen Apnea by the author herself:
“In February 2008, after seven months of research, I wrote about a phenomenon I call e-mail apnea or screen apnea. Screen apnea is the temporary cessation of breath or shallow breathing while sitting in front of a screen, whether a computer, a mobile device or a television. … shallow breathing, breath-holding, and hyperventilating trigger the sympathetic nervous systems toward a fight-or-flight state. In this state, our heart rate increases, our sense of satiety is compromised, and our bodies gear up for the physical activity that, historically, accompanied a fight-or-flight response. But when the only physical activity is sitting and responding to e-mail, we’re sort of ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go.’ Our bodies are tuned to be impulsive and compulsive when we’re in fight-or-flight. We also become tuned to over-consume. In this state, we’re less aware of when we’re hungry and when we’re sated. We reach for every available resource, from food to information, as if it’s our last opportunity—pulling out our smartphones again and again to check for e-mail, texts, and messages.” – Linda Stone (excerpt from “Manage Your Day to Day” by Jocelyn K. Glei)
Do you have screen apnea?
So how do you retrain yourself to be present with your meals and slow down? Start by turning off the TV and put away the digital devices is the best place to start. Then, set a timer to become aware of the speed with which you’re eating. If it’s less than 15 minutes per meal (10 minutes for a snack), there’s work to do.
Need additional help?
I’d love the opportunity to help you in any areas with which you struggle in your relationship with food, weight, and body image so that you can improve your health, live a more meaningful life and enjoy everyday experiences.
If you struggle in those areas and want to experience personalized one-on-one Eating Behavior Coaching, please consider my March Madness coaching offer where you get 3 45-minute coaching sessions for $99 (simply contact me here to sign up). This is for new clients only; full payment is due upon the first session; sessions offered via phone, Skype or in person (Westminster, CO office location).
If you know of anyone who can benefit from today’s blog, I’d be honored if you shared it with them. And if you have any feedback for me or would like to comment, I’d love and welcome that as well.
In good health,
Coach Rusti Q
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