When people talk to me about learning to eat mindfully, the first thing they ask is, “Won’t it take a long time to eat mindfully? I barely have time to have time to scarf down lunch, let alone chew each mouthful 50 times!”

We live under so much pressure — societal and the pressure we put on ourselves — that the idea of not multi-tasking while eating is viewed as just plain lazy. We continue to work while we eat lunch at our jobs. We load the dishwasher with one hand while we chomp at the sandwich in the other. We munch while we watch TV or search the Internet so that we don’t waste a minute doing only one thing at a time.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing, because sometimes circumstances are such that we have to eat mindlessly. Knowing you are eating mindlessly, is different from habitual mindless consumption. The first happens occasionally and you know you’re doing it, the other is unconscious and repetitive and often leaves us feeling unsatisfied and discontent. Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy eating and feel satisfied? We’ll be dispelling misconceptions about mindful eating, and sharing ideas, stories, and practices we’ve found helpful in developing a more mindful approach to nourishing yourself and what that can mean for your health and life in general.

My favorite multi-tasking when eating, is reading. Of course, if the book is really good, I don’t even realize I finished the piece of coffee cake five pages ago! And if the coffee cake is fabulous, I can’t keep my place in the book. Yikes, either way I’ve missed out on experiencing two of my favorite things, each meant to be a special and yummy treat.

How do I work with my love of reading and coffee cake when I want to do them together?  I alternate. First I read as many pages as I want. Then I close the book, pick up my fork and immerse my senses in the crunchy cinnamon topping and delicate cake.  After a sip of tea and another bite I put my fork down, open my book and thoroughly enjoy the story again. That way I don’t miss out on either, and I feel satisfied.

What’s your favorite multi-task while eating?  Have you tried alternating practice?  What helps you be mindful when you want to multi-task while eating?

Char Wilkins, MSW, LCSW (USA)