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It's Not Just About What You Eat (Series: Part 4)

So, we’ve talked about when, what, and with whom you eat with, but there’s certainly another factor in the equation of healthy conscious eating. Today, in the last installment of the series, we’ll be discussing the importance of *where* you eat.

Where you eat may sound odd... I mean really, what does it matter whether I eat a burger at the kitchen table with my family or in my car listening to the Top 40 Countdown on Kiss 108?

That’s the thing! It does matter!

Many of us have grabbed some sort of fast food on our way to work, school, practice, wherever. Whether it be a protein box from Starbucks or a Quarter Pounder with Cheese a side of fries, have you ever noticed just how fast you can eat when you’re in the car, anxious to make it on time to your destination?

Sometimes, even if it’s not necessarily in the car, life can come at you fast and you’re more concerned with doing the next task, getting to the next destination, or even posting the next Instagram that you don’t realize how much you are rushing through your days. In our interconnected and hyper-speed society, we don’t realize how often we are just blindly sprinting through the day. Fast-paced mindless eating is one of the major consequences of such a routine.

This routine of eating quickly is actually extremely detrimental when trying to lose weight.

“Most Americans eat too fast, and, as a result, they take in too many calories before they realize they've eaten enough. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness,” (Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD).

Eating more leisurely and taking the time to enjoy your meal gives the brain enough time to trigger the signal to let you know that you are full and satiated. This can help to dramatically reduce the amount of calories you eat because your brain actually has the opportunity to let you know you are full and you can adjust to such.

Okay, so how does speed relate to location of eating?

Well, let’s refer back to the previous example… When in the car, we more often than not eat very quickly in order to get that task done so we can move on to the next. That’s when eating becomes very transactional, not enjoyable.

The key here is the pleasure principle. When we eat too quickly, we are not taking in the entire experience and truly savoring the flavors. We don’t have the time to recognize or appreciate the delicious meal we just had. We may satisfy hunger, but only at the surface. We are not satisfying the entire need.

This typically leads to lingering feelings of hunger and cravings, often of the sweet variety… dessert anyone?

Try to mitigate this by eating in more calming and relaxed spaces. This may differ depending on the person but, generally, eating in the car, at your desk, and in front of a screen are all not ideal for slowing the pace at which you eat.

Limiting screen time during meals can be hugely beneficial in itself. Over the years we’ve all become so accustomed to scrolling, swiping, and liking while we eat; however, the more you can limit this, the better! Distracted eating is a major component in accidentally consuming far more calories than we intend to.

So in short, put the phone down and try to just enjoy the act of mindfully enjoying your meal. It may sound boring, but I can assure you it will be much more satisfying for your taste buds.

Further, try to eat more meals with friends and family. Many other cultures make it a priority to enjoy meals together and to make an event out of even the most mundane Tuesday night dinner. This helps slow down your eating pace while also giving you the opportunity to mitigate stress and increase happiness levels by spending quality time with the people you love.

To sum up, just know that where you eat can have a huge effect on the amount you eat. Avoiding eating in fast-paced environments, limiting screen time during meals, and making time to enjoy meals with friends and family can all have a huge impact on the amount you eat and how satisfied you are after the fact.

Thank you for reading this series and we hope you enjoyed it! Let us know what you’d like to see next!

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