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The dangers of meal multi-tasking

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:18pm

This morning I woke up woefully late. In an attempt to save time I began wolfing down oatmeal while simultaneously trying to dry my hair. This resulted in me choking on my oatmeal. Not only highly unpleasant, but since I was alone in my hotel room when I began choking my immediate thought was, “Oh my God, I am going to die alone, half-naked and malnourished.”

This horrific story illustrates a great point– the more you try to do at one time, the more likely things are to go wrong. In terms of your health, multi-tasking is disastrous. Studies have shown that eating while watching TV results in increased weight gain, irrespective of dietary or exercise habits. Trying to devour breakfast while driving often means downing a crappy granola bar and a fat and sugar soaked latte. Have you ever had a nutritious meal while attempting to catch a flight? While you may not have time to sit down and eat a five course meal replete with silver and linens, taking time to nourish yourself properly can have a huge effect on your health.

The Slow Food movement urges people to slow down, consider the source of and enjoy their food. The result of slowing down and making conscious choices about food is that often the choices will be better for our health. If you take a moment to ask, “Is this what my body needs right now?” the answer back may very well be, “Put down the donut!” Everyone is busy, harried and hurried, but remember, it takes the same amount of time to grab an apple as it does a heart-attack inducing strudel.

Keys to stopping the meal madness:

  • Sit down! You are more likely to chew properly and be able to digest your food if you stop eating over the kitchen sink.
  • Don’t drive thru. You know the likelihood of obtaining a healthy meal while speeding through the drive thru is just as likely as you being mauled to death by a pack of rabid aardvarks. If you have to eat on the road, convenience stores stock fruit, yogurt and water.
  • Take a deep breath. Before choosing to put anything in your mouth, stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. Make sure the action you are about to take is a conscious one. Being on automatic pilot is great… for planes. People don’t operate so well on auto pilot and sadly, often our food choices suffer for it.

I’m off to learn the self-Heimlich.

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