I was online the other day, scrolling instead of sleeping, when I came across one of those Buzzfeed articles that was titled something like, "Things Americans do that other countries find shocking." Being an American who is often shocked by my people, I was eager to begin my journey of superiority and scroll through what those *other* people were doing.
Imagine my surprise when the first one was, "Eating in places other than the table." Closing out the article, I felt a blush coming on. "I do that all the time," I said to my dog. He looked at me as if to say, "Tell me about it!"
Think about it! We have completely normalized eating while multitasking! Eating while driving (don't tell me you haven't eaten French fries out of the bag while bringing food home), eating straight from the bag of popcorn while watching Netflix, eating while cooking or putting away leftovers, eating while shopping, eating at concerts and ballgames and at the beach. Is there ANYWHERE we don't eat? (I've even seen ads for "waterproof bathtub plates" that attach to the side of the tub so you can eat in the bath!)
What is all this "on the go" eating doing to us? Well, the obvious answer is that it's giving us a lot more calories than we are aware of. I have a lot of coaching clients who are busy parents and they'll tell me that they eat the last chicken nugget or couple of bites of mac n cheese that their kids don't finish.
Those bites add up! To combat that, I tell those clients, "Put it on a plate. You're going to feel like an idiot sitting down and eating 3/4 of a chicken nugget, 11 Goldfish crackers, and three cold tater tots."
Don't get me wrong. This is a no-judgment zone here. I'm the lady who used to choose my kids food based on me getting to eat the leftovers. Grownass women don't eat Hot Dog on a Stick, but we can sure eat the leftovers!
We can literally graze our way through a thousand extra calories this way! A handful of nuts, a few chips, a cake pop at the drive thru, leftover spaghetti eaten standing in front of the open fridge...
Here's the truth. EVERYTHING YOU EAT HAS CALORIES. Oh, I hear you reading this, going, "Coach Traci. Baby carrots don't have very many calories at all. It doesn't matter where I eat them!"
Actually, it does. Because the second answer to "What is all this 'on the go' eating doing to us?" is is that it blurs our boundaries.
We've all seen the people at the park, chasing a little kid who just wants to play. "Come here, Jimmy. Take an apple slice." Jimmy just wants to go down the slide!
We need to get back to having boundaries between meal times and other times. If you are going to put something in your body in the form of food , put it on a plate or bowl and focus on it. EAT.
Does this mean every single meal has to be consumed as if you were in solitary confinement? No. I, for one, can't stand the sound of myself chewing. What it does mean is that you listen to music or something and sit down and eat off of proper dishes (yes, paper and plastic are considered proper). Eat food, and then stop. This gives your brain and body a chance to register what you are eating, allows you to use The Pause and the Hunger/Fullness scale to decide how much to eat. And, most importantly, it prevents you from looking in the pantry going, "Where are those walnuts? Oh, right, I ate them."
I get it, life happens. Sometimes we DO want popcorn at the movies or do have to grab a quick meal on the go. But, don't make it your norm. Be mindful about it. There are plenty of other ways we Americans can shock the world with our bad behavior.
If you have a funny story to share, a question, or want to get in touch with me, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on social media.
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