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The Skinny – Amy Brunell

speedI Eat Too Fast.

It’s an old problem that I still have to manage. Now I’m less resistant to learning about my need to eat fast. I used to hate this topic, to think about it, to feel it, it just left me frustrated. I’ve been “outed” so many times in my life for eating too quickly. No one likes getting outed about something she finds difficult and painful.

I’ve spent time analyzing why I eat fast. It turns out that there are several reasons for my habit.

It is a habit. Developed a long time ago. I can’t remember being a child who ate fast, but I’ve had many people comment to me as an adult that I eat fast.
It was a way to deal with discomfort when I was eating around people who were behaving in a challenging way.
I was just starving and couldn’t wait not to feel starving. It wasn’t that I loved eating the food, although I do; it was much more about getting rid of, not just satisfying, my huge feelings of starving.
I have ADHD and I’m just not conscious when I’m talking and eating. I get animated and excited with the topic and I just don’t pay attention to the quickness of my eating, much less the taste and potential to be satisfied.

In dieting world there are many solutions: Put your fork down in-between bites, take a sip of water after each bite. Put on slow music, eat without distraction. Look at your food, feel your food, love your food, OY VEY!

And I’m not cured yet. Partly because I don’t want to eat without distractions all the time. Partly because I hate rules like those listed above! But, I have been working on eating slower and here’s what I’ve realized:

Eating in a calmer environment, truly makes eating more enjoyable and let’s me naturally put my fork down, take a sip of water, notice what I’m eating. It’s not just about less distractions, because I noticed that when I tried eating with the rules, I was eating unhappily. I didn’t enjoy my food. I felt depressed, isolated and frustrated.

Choosing to slow down in pleasant surroundings allows me take a breath. It allows me to feel my hunger and my satiety.

Knowing ahead of time that eating with certain people causes me to eat faster, whether it’s because I get more animated in our discussions, or because there is tension at the table, is an important understanding so I can make good choices regarding eating with all kinds of people.
I’ve been trying to practice slowing down with people who eat slower and noticing what they do to eat slowly. This practice has been so very difficult, that at times, I must secretly meditate to specifically slow my energy down to meet theirs. I’ll close my eyes for a moment, take deep breaths, calm my thoughts and even spend more time looking around the room, out a window, or anything to match my eating partner’s slow energy.

I have to tell myself that I am fine. The food isn’t leaving. I’m not truly “starving” and keep breathing.

Sometimes people ask me now if I like the food because they notice me slowing down. They’ll ask “Is everything okay?” I was so surprised when people started asking me that, but now I realize that they have noticed me slowing down and are commenting on my taking a break, which feels like success to me!

Sometimes I eat something small before I eat with others. I just do better if I don’t allow myself to get too hungry, especially with those friends that eat slowly. I must handle my anxiety about being starving in order to handle my anxiety about slowing down. I just realized along the way that I didn’t have to be uncomfortable in all aspects of eating. I could care for myself without putting myself down about my challenges with slower eating.

Yes, there are people out there in the world, a friend Howard calls them “civilians” who don’t understand the complication of disordered eating. Some people just eat without all the side notes. But that’s not my path.

So in the meantime, I make feeling my body, my food, my enjoyment, a practice. We all have to practice the parts that are tough. A lot of people don’t practice much of anything, but instead avoid. I can feel pleased with myself that I’ve taken on slowing down as a practice. I can enjoy the times I do and I can honor that slowing down in any area and paying true attention is a gift.

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