Multitasking and mindfulness. Have you considered how each of these practices affect weight management? I have and I want to share those thoughts with you! I mean just look at photos from the 1970s or earlier and what you’ll usually notice are thinner adults and children. This has often been attributed to changes in our food supply and activity levels, but I also want to point out a major lifestyle change that drives up cortisol production from stress and our storage of fat. We have moved from a society of mindfulness to one of multitasking.
When I was a child, families often grew some of their food. Meals were served at table where conversation was shared without the distractions of electronic devices or other media. Shared meals with extended family or friends was a frequent ritual on Sundays. Sunday was a day of rest. Most people who worked only worked Monday through Friday. My Mom enforced “quiet time” an hour before bed. At this time, the kids went to their rooms to read, draw, or engage in some other quiet activity. No radios, phones, or televisions were allowed. Most families practiced prayer even if only at the surface level before meals and bedtime. Families spent time outside together playing and enjoying nature. They played games together and encouraged creativity and problem solving. Mindfulness was a part of daily life even though we had never heard of that word.
From Mindfulness to Multitasking
Today, the ability to multitask is often listed as a job requirement. In fact, I grew up with the notion that multitasking was a desired and necessary function for every woman seeking to enter the workforce. I practiced multitasking in the household by picking up and cleaning up as I went from one room to the next. I’d have laundry going, soup cooking, dinner on the stove and a knife in my hand prepping for the next day’s lunch. I enjoyed watching tv at the end of the day but found I’d be reading, on the computer, or eating while watching a show. The multitasking seemed to never end. I even carried this habit to bed, looking at my phone, playing games, reading a book, watching tv, and sometimes eating. This was normal for me. After consideration though, multitasking has to go! There’s a time and place for everything. Some things need their own sacred time. Our internal organs need their own sacred time.
You have probably heard not to eat before you go to bed. It’s actually a good practice to allow your body time to digest before going to sleep. The reason for this is your internal organs weren’t designed so much for multitasking. In the early days of the human race, a person could be eating a handful of berries and suddenly be faced with the threat of being attacked by a predator. That person’s body very efficiently switched from digesting to running or fighting to survive. Blood and oxygen was diverted from the digestive system to the heart, lungs, and muscles. Digestion could resume once the physical threat was gone. Our body still functions like that.
What does this have to do with eating and sleeping? Something similar happens. The body repairs, restores, and recovers during rest. These tasks are so important that when the body has to make a choice between digestion and work, work wins. Anything just eaten will quickly convert to stored energy for future use (fat). You will not get the full benefit of proper digestion. We have to stop mulitasking food and sleep. Mindfulness is nothing more than being aware of what we are doing right now in this very moment. Pay attention to your food and digestion. Then, allow your body to do it’s best maintenance work while you sleeep.
If the body can’t multitask internally when faced with digestion versus danger or digestion versus maintenance, how do you think it multitasks when you’re busy eating and watching tv or eating while driving or eating while getting ready for work? We have to slow down to slim down. Our weight loss efforts might be in vain if we are too busy for mindfulness in our eating habits. When we are mindful while eating, our senses are heightened, We enjoy our meals more. Our satiety kicks in sooner which means we’ll probably eat less. We’ll begin to recognize when certain foods don’t agree with us. We’ll learn to listen to our bodies. We’ll begin to make healthier choices. We’ll gain all of these benefits just by slowing down, saying no to so much multitasking in our lives, and allowing mindfulness to be part of our daily routines. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. For further research, I encourage you to read works of Marc David, Founder of the Institute For The Psychology of Eating.