Friday, September 25, 2009

Unconscious eating - Wake Up!

Yesterday I had a glimpse into an aspect of my eating that I hadn't recognized before. My work day starts at 8:30, so usually I eat breakfast, or at least part of it, very early at home - by 6:30am. I then go to a 7am daily AA meeting I've attended for years, and from there straight to work. Yesterday was a morning when I had eaten 1 egg and 2 egg whites scrambled before the meeting, so intended to have the rest of my breakfast once I got to my office. The rest is the same Monday-Friday - some kind of fruit, and a cup of Trader Joe's Greek style plain yogurt with 2 packets of Splenda.

Immediately upon getting to work, I fired up the computer and did what every dedicated employee does first comments on my own blog and read several other blogs. I then went to eat my yogurt (having already had my fruit while reading), but the container was no where to be found. Until I glanced into the trash, and there was the EMPTY container. I had already eaten the yogurt, and didn't even realize it! Talk about unconscious eating! I recalled that I'd taken the fruit and yogurt out at the same time, but what with being mesmerized by the contents on the monitor, I just sailed through the yogurt without noticing. Later, I did the same thing with the bag of cut up carrots and celery I bring daily to munch throughout the morning. I thought I had some left from my late morning munching which occurred while I was on the phone with a friend (more dedicated employee behavior), and realized I'd scarfed the whole bag already.

I can assure you that these weren't senior moments...they were classic examples of unconscious eating. I never thought I did that. I've read about how when you eat a meal or snack, you should really focus on it - notice the texture and flavor of the food. Chew each bite thoroughly and feel it in your mouth and as you swallow. Wait a few seconds (at least) before shoveling in the next bite, etc. I thought those were good suggestions, but not for me because I never did that mindless eating. I wish I could know how often I've done that with chips, cookies, candy, helpings of food at meals and esp. holidays. Every day, particularly in a binge, I likely eat much more than I even realize because I'm not paying attention.

This served as a great wake up call for me. And not just about eating - I do so many other things unconsciously, like walks on beautiful days. Sure, I notice the blue sky, the changing leaves, the sounds of a the creek along the trail - at first. But then the mind goes into hyperthink, and the walk becomes another item to check off my list, rather than a visceral, pleasurable, peaceful experience with nature and myself. The Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has a book called Peace Is Every Step, about walking meditatively and finding new depth of experience and awakening. In googling to check the spelling of his name, I ran across a YouTube video of him talking about this topic - the link is:

I've read some of the book, but to hear him discuss anything is truly a spiritual experience. Haven't yet listened to it, but will do so after work (I'm not a total slacker). Anyway, I want to live in each moment more fully, more consciously. Apparently I have a lot of work to do in this arena, if I'm not even noticing when I finish off a bag of carrots and some yogurt! I'm pretty sure this life is only able to be experienced in the moment. And if I want to live as deeply and fully as possible, I need to notice where I am and what I'm doing as much as I can. I expect this will help my eating issues as well.


  1. Hi Leslie! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I just went back and read some of your archives. You're doing really well and I'm looking forward to continuing to read your blog!

  2. Hi Leslie. This is a lovely piece of writing!

    It's strange isn't it, that the present is often the thing we're paying the least attention to. We're so formed by our histories and our thoughts so caught up in the next thing on the list, or this afternoon, or next week.

    It's a great thought to just enjoy and appreciate here and now.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx