Last month I started eating all meals and snacks at the table, with nary a book in sight. I had posted the Eating Guidelines on the fridge and had taken to heart those that advise eating sitting down without distractions. Considering that I formerly ate only one meal—breakfast—at the table, it was a huge change to sit alone at lunch, not doing anything but eating. The first few days were hard. For one thing, I wasn’t used to the quiet. For another, I was bored. But then I rediscovered flavors and textures I’d forgotten, got interested in trying new dishes, and looked forward to the breaks in my day. Other habits began changing as well.
At the grocery store one afternoon, I paused by the donuts to grab one to eat in the car on my way home, as I often did. But as I anticipated eating it while driving, I realized I wanted to give that donut my full attention, and I didn’t have time for another break. So I skipped it.
One night after dinner, I spied the last remaining popcorn ball and decided to have it later. After we watched a movie, I went to the kitchen to get it and stopped in my tracks. Did I really want to sit at the table and eat that popcorn ball at 10 at night? No. So I didn’t.
I served hamburgers and baked beans for dinner recently. With chips. My favorites. Lays Classic. The paper-thin, salty, fried ones. That night, I discovered it took only a few chips to satisfy me. Why was that? I usually polished off a one-serving bag in two minutes. I finally figured it out. I’d always eaten them while doing something else, without noting how full I was getting.
A few days later, I walked without thinking down the candy aisle of my favorite drugstore. I pictured myself eating a Milky Way at the table. Would that be fun? Not as much as eating it on the couch in front of the TV, or while playing games at the computer. But I had gotten in the habit of eating everything at the table, where I savored the calm as well as delicious meals, so I skipped the candy bar.
This isn’t to say that I’ve given up sweets. No way! Just this week I bought Hostess Ding Dongs. And I’m really enjoying them for snacks and desserts—at the table.