Author Topic: Eating only in food areas  (Read 4611 times)

Offline Jbird

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Eating only in food areas
« on: April 15, 2010, 09:15:44 PM »
Inspired by the today's posting on cue-exposure techniques in relation to addictions and bad habits, I'm going to try applying these techniques to a bad habit I have of eating everywhere but the dining room table. I combine eating with sitting at the computer, reading on the couch or in bed, driving, watching TV, etc. By sitting at the dining room table, I would limit the amount of time I spend eating (I've already determined that it's boring to eat unless it's paired with other activities or people), and I would create less of a mess. I'll report here on my trials (and errors). Wish me luck!

Offline Jbird

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2010, 06:43:59 PM »
My first day of eating only in food areas went really well. I think being very conscious of wanting to do this and further, of wanting to report my success here, made it relatively easy. In addition to sitting at the dining room table whenever I ate or drank anything, I also didn't combine eating and drinking with other stimuli (like reading, watching TV, or checking email). I also focused on eating a paleo diet (no grain, sugar, beans, or dairy) and recorded everything I consumed on The Daily Plate to keep track of calories and the proportion of fat, carbs, and protein in a general way. I find eating without any distractions to be incredibly boring, and I consider that positive. I found to my surprise and delight that I had absolutely no desire to overeat because I wanted to get the eating experience over and done with so I could return to more interesting activities that I would normally either pair with eating (surfing the Web) or that have nothing to do with eating (taking a walk). I actually had a very stressful day, and I did notice I was in a much worse mood for a much longer time than if I'd let myself escape into a calming, carby haze. What I'm proud of is that even though I considered having something sugary or starchy as a way to calm down, I used a chair massager for about 10 minutes instead and that really helped me get through a difficult moment and regain my resolve. I usually don't feel I can take that kind of control when I'm in the grip of a bad mood, but it really didn't take a supreme effort.

Offline JC

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 08:09:54 PM »
Jaye, I think you might be right about things going well because you were conscious of wanting to report on your success. I find then when I write up what I'm doing and send it others or post it on the Internet, all of a sudden I'm "on TV" and on my good behavior. But I also see many other people willing to report on their failures and not make a big deal about it, so maybe it just says something about you as a person.  But in any case, it is good to hear you feel more in control with your new pattern of eating meals in a more formal way.

Good luck.

Offline Jbird

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 10:15:23 AM »
Hi JC: I wonder about those people who are willing to report on their failures. I guess they are seeking support, but I've always been more of the type of person who gives support rather than seeks it. I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. I also think it has something to do with my self-image as a high achiever. So, you're right that it says something about me as a person. And apparently you as a person too!

Offline Jbird

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2010, 08:17:56 PM »
I had another good day of eating in an eating place (my dining room table), though I've made an allowance for being able to drink tea, coffee, or diet soda at the computer or in the car, etc. (unless part of a meal) since I don't consider that a bad habit. What I'm really happy about is I'm not tempted to eat anything "recreationally" if I'm just sitting at the table. I only make good choices, and I feel satisfied with what I eat. I guess what I'm really doing is engaging in mindful eating because I'm not distracting myself with reading, watching, listening, etc. All my attention and awareness is directed at what and how I'm eating. It's amazing to me how one simple change seems to be producing multiple beneficial results. Still plagued by some stressful stuff going on, but I was determined not to let the external situation throw me off balance, and I feel good about how I spent the day.

Offline HungryGuy

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2010, 01:55:14 PM »
It sounds like you are doing quite well at this, Jaye. There is a lot out there written about "mindfulness", some of it quite good, some of it rather hazy, but what you are doing is very concrete and apparently quite effective.  You say that you are seeing multiple beneficial results - can you say more about that?  Does it go beyond appetite suppression?

Offline SUGARDUDE

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 02:45:20 PM »
Last week I had to modify my rule about not eating in front of the computer beacuse I found that my tendency is to sit down at the copmputer and then get up to get something to eat. So it's now, if I'm on the web....no eating. It's not until I'm done with my business, surfing, etc that I'm permitted to get a snack.

Offline Jbird

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 06:33:01 PM »
Sugardude, your mentioning how you tend to "graze" at the computer was one of the things that motivated me to decide to just eat in a dining area because I'm the same way. HungryGuy, some of the benefits I'm seeing are that I'm eating more regular meals when eating separate from other activities, rather than grazing while doing other things. This means food on a plate more than food in a bowl or food in my hand, which in turn means cooking something (like poaching a turkey breast) rather than pouring cereal into a bowl or eating grab-and-go foods like sandwiches. So the quality of what I'm eating is better. I'm paying more attention to what I'm eating, and feeling pride in preparing something that turns out well and tastes good. Cooking is a creative process for me, but I usually feel that cooking just for myself is a waste of time. I think of it as a performance and I have no audience. But I can be the audience! It doesn't have to be another person. Because eating times are discrete rather than ongoing and random, I find myself cleaning up afterwards instead of just letting dishes accumulate in the sink. Overall, I think it's making me more organized and structured to eat this way, and I'm neither of those things naturally. It adds order and reduces disorder. For someone who is less casual and chaotic than I am, it might not make the same type of difference. But for me, it's helping me do a better impersonation of a normal person! My weight continues to slowly go down. I was 126.6 this morning. I didn't mean to use fuzzy New Age terminology by using the word "mindful." I just wanted to indicate that this way of eating is the opposite of "mindless." Maybe "focused" would be a better term.

Offline HungryGuy

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2010, 08:48:37 AM »
Jaye, I didn't mean to rag on the word "mindfulness". It was only that I've seen that word abused by others. The way you are using it is meaningful and I understand it. And I think you hit upon something quite true, which is that we should do things with care, with intention, and as if we were on stage -- but for ourselves, not just for others.  Rather than rushing through the day and being sloppy about things, by performing to a higher standard, even for just myself, I feel more in control and better organized, and I actually feel a certain pride about it that is hard to put into words.  So yes, I can see the benefits beyond just weight loss.

Offline JC

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2010, 02:20:47 PM »
Jaye,  How is your experiment going with limiting where you eat?  I haven't plunged in with any of the diet deconditioning ideas here yet, because I'm not sure if they are for me, but your eating habits sound like mine, or at least were like mine.  So I'm thinking that some simple rules like this might help me cut down on snacking.  But I'd like to get your experience before I plunge in.  Thanks.

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2010, 05:50:38 PM »
I've had to eat standing up a few times in the last few days, and my partner said something about only eating while standing up.  That almost sounded like a good idea to try, similar to what you are doing.

Offline Jbird

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2010, 12:06:15 PM »
JC, one of the side benefits of not grazing at the computer is that I'm not at the computer as much. I consider that a good thing! So just catching up on some of the posts. In answer to your question, I think of what I'm doing as just creating a few rules for myself and not deconditioning, cue extinction or anything exotic. I have trouble sticking to diets per se, but it's interesting to see how disentangling eating from other activities has helped me be more conscious, focused, aware, etc. So for me, this is helpful. It's also more of a guideline than a rule. For example, if I'm truly unable to take the time to eat something but know I need to eat, I'll eat something in the car on the way to my next activity. But it's not mindless, escapist, emotion-numbing eating. I think what I'm trying to say is I'm sticking to the spirit rather than the letter of the law, but it's my law, so I don't really feel I have to obey it except as it makes sense to me. Hope that helps.

Offline JC

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Re: Eating only in food areas
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2010, 11:22:21 AM »
I think this is a good idea of yours to "disentangle" eating from other activities. It reminds me of some useful advice I read in a book called "Time Management from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern. The idea is to plan our days as discrete blocks of time -- for eating, different work activities, family & friends, personal time, fitness, etc.  and to keep these time blocks separate. Avoid getting distracted during any of these time blocks unless it is a true emergency. Don't take phone calls except at certain times, etc. The benefits are focus and a much greater sense of control and getting things done in each area of our lives. It isn't about rigid scheduling, since these blocks can be flexible, but we need to avoid distraction. This is also something that takes practice to get used to, like any habit, but its worth it. This has stayed with me and your comment reminded me of it.