Have you ever found yourself taking the last bite of your lunch or the last sip of a coffee and realized all of a sudden that while engrossed in another activity, you barely noticed yourself eating or drinking? Of course you have; we all do it from time to time - even us dietitians. Well, I thought I was immune to distracted eating (also known as mindless eating) until I started catching myself more and more frequently shoveling in my breakfast while racing around the house trying to get my toddler fed and ready for the day. Multi-tasking, I called it, but I've recently starting asking myself if these chaotic mornings are not only impacting on the enjoyment of my breakfast, but are also perhaps not quite as efficient as I would like?
In his book The Myth of Multitasking, Dave Crenshaw explains that the term multitasking was originally created to describe a process used by computers. Multitasking is “the apparent simultaneous performance of two or more tasks by a computer’s central processing unit… Just like your brain, the computer really can’t focus on two or more things at the same time. What the processor is really doing is switching rapidly between one program and the other”.
So really, when we say we’re multitasking, what we’re actually doing is switch tasking ie. switching our attention back and forth between two or more tasks that require some mental effort. When we try to listen to someone while also checking emails, we usually find that we can’t actually focus on both. Crenshaw explains that contrary to popular belief, multitasking or switch tasking is generally less efficient and less effective.
Similarly, in their book Intuitive Eating, dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch explain that when we eat at the same time as engaging in another activity, such as watching TV or working on the computer, our brains can only focus on one task and eating tends to go on autopilot. This makes it very easy to overeat and end up feeling unsatisfied with the food.
I decided to try making mornings more mindful. I started getting as much as possible ready the night before and waking up half an hour earlier. So far, breakfast has been much more enjoyable. AND I've been starting the day in a calmer and happier mood.
Have you ever thought about ways that you can make your meals more mindful? Write a comment below sharing your experience.