Can Intuitive Eating and Distracted Eating Coexist?

Can Intuitive Eating and Distracted Eating Coexist?


Mindful eating is a huge part of intuitive eating, and rightfully so. When you are in the moment and eating mindfully, you’ll be able to savor your food and really get in touch with your fullness. On the flip side, there is distracted eating. This often means eating in front of the TV or with your phone in your hand. Even though there aren’t any hard and fast rules with intuitive eating, distracted eating is definitely discouraged. I have a secret though.1 I eat with distractions sometimes…and, in certain instances, it can be surprisingly helpful!

Now before you start thinking that this is all crazy talk, let me explain. Let’s start off with some background. There is an eating habit that I have had for as long as I can remember: I eat quickly. I think that comes from two main experiences in my life.

Life Experience #1: As a youngster, my plate was prepared for me. Often it was too much food, but I was encouraged to clean my plate anyway. I started off at a normal eating speed, but, because I was no longer hungry after a while, my pace took a nosedive. My relatives would then good-naturedly tease me for eating so slowly. Though they had good intentions, this bothered me, so I began to eat more quickly just to avoid their comments.

Life Experience #2: When I dieted, I restricted my food. This made me over-hungry and, in response to that deprivation, I shoveled food into my mouth. This became so routine that it continued even after I was well on my way to becoming an intuitive eater.

I knew I had to break this habit in order to be more intuitive and to simply enjoy my food. I’m sure all mindful eaters out there would encourage me to focus on the taste, texture, yada yada yada, and, while I agree with that, being distracted while I ate was a tremendous help when it came to the speed of my eating. For example, here’s my typical distracted breakfast: Take a bite, put fork down, read newspaper,2 repeat. The pause created by reading the newspaper between bites forces me slow down.

But there’s a caveat. I make a conscious effort to incorporate check ins a few times during my meal. Because I mix in my newspaper distraction at breakfast, my check ins are every 5 minutes or so. This gives my body the time to register my fullness and I can then determine if I want more food or not.

Some people shake their finger at distracted eating, but I honestly find that it can be a useful tool if used appropriately. I now eat at a much more relaxed pace instead of rushing and feeling physically uncomfortable afterwards. I figure that as long as I check in with my body regularly, then there isn’t a problem with adding this strategy to my IE tool box.

How is distracted eating part of your life? Please share in the comment section below.


2Yes, I’m like an old woman and read a newspaper. And it’s not an online newspaper either. It’s the kind that is delivered to my doorstep!

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience.

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2 thoughts on “Can Intuitive Eating and Distracted Eating Coexist?

  1. (raising hand) – I eat distracted too 😉 Its mainly a morning routine where I have a cup of coffee and often some little nibble (baked goodie) while I check in on my computer. When I started IE I made sure I didn’t do this only to end up rebelling against the ‘rule’! Instead I discovered that I could indeed enjoy this as long as I was aware of WHY I wanted to and what I got from doing that.

    Being retired I don’t have to rush out the door most mornings. I can and do linger over my coffee and little ‘treat’ mindful of the fact that by the time I am finished I may then be ready to eat something more substantial. This routine allows me to get ready for my day – guilt and should free!

    Another aspect of ‘distracted’ eating that I find normal is conversation at the dinner table. While enjoying our meal hubby & I check in with each other and share thoughts/ideas that we had during the day. It turns out that both of us don’t say much for first few bites – especially if we are rather hungry when we begin eating. But as the drive to eat diminishes, allowing conversation to be added to the meal helps to slow down eating as well as allow the meal to ‘register’ with stomach and body.

    Of course this was not my initial experience as I began to embrace IE practices, but over time finding what worked for me helped to ease those practices into my life – without a fight 😉

    1. I enjoy my morning routine as well and it does include reading. I’m not doing it to avoid guilt or anything like that; I just like it. And you’re right about eating with others. The conversation can be a form of distraction, but it’s a good distraction. We want to spend time sharing with our loved ones!

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