Home » Happiness Tip: Just Eat

Happiness Tip: Just Eat

iStock_000009598256SmallI know, I know — you’re thinking this happiness tip is pretty bogus. I mean, who doesn’t feel happier when they eat? Am I really advocating food-as-joy?

Maybe: It’s all in how food is consumed. How often do you eat breakfast standing up or in the car? Do you eat lunch in front of your computer, at your desk, or buried behind a book? How often do you just eat, without also doing something else?

In the wild (or, say, kindergarten), we mammals naturally take breaks to refuel with a snack or a meal. Don’t squander this natural rest period by wolfing down your lunch while you read your email, or by sipping a latte while driving to work and calling that breakfast. Practice eating mindfully, paying attention to your food and the people you are with. Notice what you are eating and how quickly or slowly. Breathe. Relax. You will feel more calm and content.

Take Action: If you rarely just eat without also doing something else, start small. Perhaps commit to savoring your food for the first 5 bites, or maybe 5 minutes of every meal. Or to eating one lunch a week by yourself, not at your desk, with no distractions.

Join the Discussion: When is it most difficult for you to stop multi-tasking during meals? What techniques work for you? For example, I have a hard time sitting down during breakfast with my kids — I’m always tempted to rush around helping them make their lunches while I drink a smoothie standing up. I’ve solved this by allowing 15 minutes longer than I really need, so that there is nothing for me to do but sit down and have breakfast with my family.


  1. Denise Flora says:

    One thing we have done for years at dinner is to light a candle at the start. That signals the beginning of the meal. When we blow it out, “Dinner is officially over.” The kids know that until the candle goes out we are still taking time out for the meal. Breakfast is definitely the harder time to stay seated for the whole event.

    So important, and so accessible to look at food as a way to tune into the moment, our mind, our emotions. Helped me to lose 80 burdensome pounds and keep it off almost two years now. I was asked to host a mindfulness and food group which we do once per month. The breakthrough for me personally was when after watching food cravings arise for a while (like when someone else in the house left the potato chip bag open) I recognized that echo craving event when it arose even when it wasn’t about food (when a friend was snapping pictures at an event). Such fertile ground! Thanks for all. – Denise Flora

  2. Micaela Gutierrez Schmitz says:

    I try to be mindful but eating with my child is WORK! he is tiny and so I feel no matter what I am not able to be mindful because I have to make sure he doesn’t spill his milk, gets what he wants etc. If I have to eat separately just to be mindful then it destroys the family eating thing. I’m sure this is just a stage. We already do not look at our ipads, watch tv or do anything except eat but I still find this a tremendous challenge. esp when the end of the meal is signaled by my toddler standing up in his high chair. It makes eating my own dinner a sprint. And we do this, all 3 of us, 2 if not 3 meals a day.

  3. Janine Kovac says:

    oh! I really like that candle idea. One thing I try to do is to finish chewing and swallowing the last bite before I get up to clean up. This is pretty easy during our family dinner but always a struggle when I’m eating by myself.

  4. miss_britt says:

    This is such an important reminder. Breakfast and lunch are the meals when I tend to be least mindful – usually scrolling through headlines or catching up on Hulu while I eat. 🙂 But I notice when my kids do the same thing during their afternoon snacks and I hate it!!

    I think we’re in need of a “no distractions at the table” rule – for everyone!

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