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Eating with my phone or laptop

By Michelle May, M.D.

During our recent Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating and Yoga Retreat, one of the topics we discussed was how to move from eating mindlessly to eating with fewer distractions. After the retreat, Gabrielle Allison, a retreat participant and one of our Mindful Eating and Yoga Instructors, shared her observations about eating with a phone or laptop. There were a number of great teaching points in her post so I wanted to share it with you, followed by a few comments:

“As I shared during the retreat, I normally eat most of my meals alone, with my devices – either my phone or my laptop, partly for the company it gives and partly because I feel that I’m being productive.

Over the past year, I have taken the steps to switch back and forth between the tasks of eating and of engaging with my device so I’m more present and aware with both tasks.

What I really noticed at the retreat is how much more I enjoyed the flavors, textures, and experiences of eating when I paid 100% attention to it. So, I’ve been curious about experimenting with not sharing my meal time with my devices.

It’s been both awkward and enjoyable at the same time. It not only allows me to enjoy the eating experience more, I noticed that there’s something about dedicating that time and attention to my meal that feels like I’m honoring myself and the food. The feeling is hard to describe, but it’s nice.

Honestly, I do sometimes feel bored or feel a sense of urgency to be productive. I’ve also noticed it gives me the opportunity to sit with thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable or painful at times. My good ‘ol laptop served well as a distraction I guess. Other times, I notice how much I enjoy eating mindfully and I’m happy to be away from the screen.

It’s been interesting, and I plan to continue playing with it. The beauty of the mindful eating process is the layers of unraveling. There is no right or wrong and no time lines, just curiosity and self-compassion!”

Thanks Gabrielle! Your post illustrates a number of essential qualities of mindful eating:

  • Mindful eating is a continuous learning process.
  • You don’t have to be perfect! Instead of telling yourself you must eat without any distractions, you can try alternating between eating and other activities.
  • Nonjudgment and self-compassion help you move from perfectionism and guilt to the curiosity and awareness necessary for making lasting change.
  • Experimenting with new behaviors and noticing the benefits reinforces the changes that are most effective for you.

About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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