How A Self-Made Gap in Your Day Can Change the Way You Do Life
It's true what they say about time passing faster as you get older. I still can't believe I am the mom of 4 humans, one of which towers above me and is heading into high school next year! The months and seasons blur together, and it's easy to flow through it all at breakneck speed, only stopping to acknowledge that it's again, a new year.
The pace we live at can often translate into our daily habits, causing us to be professional multitaskers. We eat while we read, scroll social media, watch t.v., drive, even as we cook or between tasks and chores. We talk on the phone while we tackle other hands on tasks, fold laundry while helping kids with homework, even brush our teeth while showering.
If you are anything like me, you get superior satisfaction at the end of a day knowing that you were productive. It feels great. It's a tangible, measurable form of "success". Unfortunately, rushing is also one of the caveats to this lifestyle, and not a strongpoint I would like to brag about. Rushing gets me into trouble, be it by the lack of quality of my work, or the missed relational opportunities.
Rushing as a lifestyle plunged me into a habit of habitual overeating. This is a simple, yet sly habit because it comes in the form of eating on the go, eating while prepping food for others (hello, parents and caregivers!), eating while cleaning up, and hurrying through eating because of the demands of the daily schedule. Parents, I KNOW you feel me. Busyness causes us to eat quickly for many reasons. Either we are just trying to hustle through a meal, because our schedules are busting at the seams, or because we have forgotten to eat and are now starving after 6 hours of nonstop work. Or, it may be an emotional reason. Maybe our stress is high and we subconsiously need to numb out our intense feelings. Oh look, there is some delicious food waiting to take the edge off! Maybe we use food to celebrate, and find ourselves continually indulging to the point of overeating.
Whatever the reason, creating a pause between the issue and the food is a gamechanger to discovering more about how and why YOU eat. Of course, we all need food to survive and flourish. But often, for those of us who don't always check in with our bodies before a meal or snack, it's not uncommon to feel a disconnect between your body's hunger and fullness signals and what is happening around you.
A fundamental skill I train my clients in is regulating eating behaviors. To break it down, this looks like slow, mindful eating at each meal (or at least as much as possible). It includes paying attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues, learning to differentiate between emotional and physical hunger, and also allowing yourself the time and space to enjoy a meal unrushed, because you deserve it, and your body will thank you. It's a skill that I believe most people have as children and lose as they get older, in our busy American culture. Thankfully, all skills can be learned and re-learned.
My favorite tool in training this skill is creating a pause. Observation is the name of the game with this one! Slowing your normal pace enough to allow thoughts and feelings to surface will help you recognize them objectively, and get curious about their origins without putting judgement on yourself. Taking a 3-5 minute break to acknowledge WHAT is causing the rush to eat is often very telling in the big picture of why our lives are how they are.
It sounds so rudamentary, but I was shocked to find that when I began to practice slowing down, I found a whole host of beliefs I had built around my life and eating:
"I don't have time to enjoy a real meal because too many people need me right now.
If I eat fast, I won't notice or feel bad about how much I am eating.
Eating while I cook and clean up doesn't really count...it's just what I do.
If I eat this thing, it will take the edge off and I won't have to feel this uncomfortable feeling about myself or my life.
I should probably eat this treat quickly so I don't have to do it in front of others, because they might judge me-or worse, I will have to share!
I know I'm not hungry, but I just need a distraction from all this stress.
Even though I don't want to eat anymore, I feel like I have to because this is what I always do and the pull feels too strong for me."
Those are some seriously honest observations I have made in myself over the years. When I found the courage to name them and found the grace to give myself in place of a critical spirit, I finally was able to start making real progress on my journey to deep health. Slowing down gives us power to hear our bodies and ourselves again, hushing all the chaos around us, and attuning our minds to what is truly happening.
Try it out. Create a pause between the time you reach for food and the time you eat it. Check in and observe: Are you eating for hunger? For stress? Are you rushing? Do you give yourself persmission to sit down at a table and really taste your food, without any distractions? I would love to hear from you about what you find in the comments below.
DM me if you resonate with this and would be interested in learning more about 1-0n-1 coaching for your journey.