Almost one quarter of all the food we eat is forgotten in an instant. This is because we are eating while focusing on an entirely separate task. Whether we’re racing between office appointments, working furiously to meet a deadline, managing a complex family schedule or just lounging in front of the TV, for many of us food is just fuel for the engine and disappears. We get hungry, distracted, stressed and harried, all cueing the body to want food – right now.
Food is pulled from handbags, drawers, vending machines, the fridge or the back of the pantry. The the eating and the food disappear in the blur of distraction, gone and forgotten.
It’s too bad for us that food marketers have become wise to this. These marketers describe this habit – eating while actually doing something far more engaging – as secondary eating. It’s a growing market, being catered to by an endless array of food products that can be eaten anywhere and anyhow. The food products are designed to quickly fill a short-term hunger gap. To ease any lingering guilt, many products have the look and branding of something actually healthy, possibly in moderation or as part of a balanced diet. Almost one half of all secondary eaters consume food mindlessly, every day and all day. Mindless eating may then deliver a weighty bonus at the end of a year.
The opposite of secondary eating is primary eating. Primary eating is when a person stops and gives the majority of their thoughts and time to eating. This thinking and time-giving process requires mindful attention. Mindful eating requires habits that break up the continued stresses and distractions of the day, requiring time out to stop and purposefully eat. Mindful eating requires decisions and habits to be formed about when to eat, what to eat and how it might be prepared.
Tips for taking mindful meals
1. Take a break and move away from your desk or lounge. Purposefully move to another room to sit and eat.
2. Make meals that require more preparation than just peeling a wrapper.
3. Eat meals, not snacks.
4. Eat slowly and savour the flavour.
5. Eat with other people.
6. Practise remembering everything you ate yesterday.