Location, Location, Location

There are certain places in my house where I tend to eat, and other places where I don’t.

Take the comfy chair that seems to have my butt imprinted on the cushion, for example.  Something happens when I sit there.  Some conditioned response that sends my mind into overdrive thinking about food.  Probably because I have, over the years, spent entirely too much time sitting in that chair with my feet up, watching TV or reading a book and mindlessly eating.  There is a little table where I can put a dish, or I can balance a snack quite nicely on the wide chair arms.  And this chair is within easy walking distance to all the food in my kitchen.  I don’t even have to wait for a commercial to raid the pantry.

On the other hand, there is my desk.  Where my computer lives.  In the furthest corner of my basement from the kitchen.  But distance is not important here, because for some reason, I don’t ever eat while working on the computer.  Either because my hands are otherwise occupied or my mind is otherwise distracted.  Sometimes I make a conscious effort to bring a drink down so that I can get in some of my daily hydration while typing away.  But food never occurs to me here.

There is a small voice in my head that says “Karen, you should only eat at the kitchen table.”  That is the same voice that is so wise in all things diet and weight related.  But, much like my teen son when I tell him to pick up after himself, I hear the voice but I choose not to obey.  Yes, I am sure that if I only allowed myself to eat while sitting at the kitchen table I would actually control a lot of my snacking and overeating by default.  Seems like such a simple, rational solution.  And yet I just don’t want to do that, I say stomping my foot in my mind like a toddler throwing a tantrum.  How crazy am I that I resist this simple little change that may make a huge difference in my eating lifestyle?

I had not intended to go this direction when I started this post, but as I write these words and they resonate in my mind, I realize that the time has come to try an experiment.  Much as I really don’t want to do it.  For one week, I will eat only at the kitchen table.  I am shuddering just thinking about it.  But I know this will be good for me.

So here are my challenge goals for next week:

  • Any meals and snacks at home will be eaten at the kitchen table.
  • Stay on plan with all eating.  This means that I will watch quantity as well – no more “cheating without really cheating.”
  • No bread (unless it is a sandwich in the car to/from the lake).

And I want to share that just setting this goal in its simplicity is a big step for me.  Because I started working on this post a week ago and have spent all that time vacillating and considering what exceptions I should allow myself.  Like lunch, which I usually eat in my comfy arm chair, catching up on the morning’s recorded news shows.  But, I decided that the time had come to “man up” and stop giving myself loopholes.  So no exceptions when I am eating at home.  At the table period.  Yikes.

What about you?  Does location impact your eating?

Note:  For a recap of how I did on last week’s goals, read here.

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51 Comments

Filed under dieting, goals, making a change, Uncategorized

51 responses to “Location, Location, Location

  1. Eating in the kitchen has been a big deal for me as well. It was kind of scary at first which sounds crazy, but sounds like you’ll know what I mean. At the kitchen table, without any distractions, you really think about what you’re eating. It was really awkward at first when I was home alone and had nobody sitting with me, I didn’t know where to look or how to arrrange my expression. I was so used to looking at my daughter or husband at the table and trying to seem interested in the conversation at the table. Otherwise, I would be looking at the TV or computer screen. Nowadays, I actually look at *gasp* my food!

    • Karen

      Okay – full disclosure: eating at the table for me is not the same thing as eating without distractions. Yet. Baby steps.

  2. You know Karen, the experts say this is a biggie. To eat non distracted, focus on the enjoyment of the meal, eat slowly, put the fork or spoon down in between bites. I think it is important especially for people that have trouble with mindless eating which happens when we are doing something else, like TV watching and eating at the same time.

    Me, I have been at this a long time so I will admit that I eat & watch my recorded shows but I am not a mindless eater. I have that part down.

    • Karen

      I can’t wait for the day when I can say the same:) Just when I think I have some part of this all figured out and under control, I don’t. Sigh. But I am learning a lot and hopefully that translates to progress.

  3. I’m happy to say I can answer “no” to this one! Location doesn’t seem to have an impact. My mindless eating is associated with an activity and that activity is reading. Since I began blogging, I’ve done significantly less reading of books and my mindless eating has just about stopped. You’re right – it’s hard to eat while using both hands on a keyboard.

    • Karen

      Reading does it for me too in a biggggg way. I have hardly read in months. TV does it for me too. So I could probably have accomplished the same objective if I just said I would not eat in front of the TV or with a book in hand.

  4. sunnydaze

    Yikes! is right! This would be a hard one for me, too. Good luck to you! You can do it!

  5. Hm… maybe it’s not so much location as the acitivities you do in said locations. I wonder if you brought a laptop onto the comfy chair [and your hands were otherwise occupied] if you’d think about eating as much.

    • Karen

      I keep thinking I need to learn to knit while I watch TV. Not sure what I can do while I read though to occupy my hands.

  6. Good luck! This would be hard for me, too. I usually eat my breakfast and lunch in front of the computer, like I’m doing right now reading your blog post!

    • Karen

      Some nights my son and I would eat in front of the TV together. How pathetic is that? Usually we were catching up on our cooking competition shows.

  7. How interesting that most of the comments are from those who say that the location ISN’T necessarily the important thing. I was going to write the same thing. I left a post on someone else’s blog (yours? someone’s?) last week about location not being important to me either. What I think is important here, and you recognized it yourself by saying that you’ve been thinking about this post for a week, is that you are trying new behavior modifications. Maybe location is a biggie for you….maybe not. But you won’t know till you try. If you find it doesn’t make a difference, try something else.

    But that comfy chair sure sounds enticing…

  8. All of the behavior books I have read regarding weight loss would agree with you!

    I have a rule to always eat sitting down and my food has to be eaten off a plate or out of a dish. It sounds kind of silly but it works like a charm. It stops you from taking a little piece here and there. As you get closer to your goal all of those little bites really add up as you don’t have as much wiggle room for extra calories the thinner you get.

    If you focus on your food and eat more mindfully you realize what you are eating and enjoy it more.

    I think it is a great idea to break the cycle of bad habits.

    • Karen

      Maybe this will be just the thing to get me started breaking that cycle. Of course that means if the week goes well I will need to extend it. Sigh.

  9. “It’s time for me to man up and stop allowing myself loop holes.” Good gravy…this could have come DIRECTLY from my mouth. You and I are so much alike. Thanks for reminded me of the things that I need!!!! You can do this!! I can’t wait to hear a report about this week 🙂

  10. Sitting at the computer sure doesn’t stop me from eating. If that was the case I would never eat at all sense it seems that’s where I spend 90% of the time when I am home. In my wo-MAN cave in front of my computer…LOL Good luck with the table.

  11. Wow – so true. Your post made me realize that so much of my overeating feels like a conditioned response to being in my house! Since I can’t move, I need to be mindful. Your goal of eating only at the kitchen table for the week is great. Maybe I’ll shoot for that too.

  12. Hi Karen. Location does make a difference to me too. I now work from home on the bottom level of my townhouse and never eat at my desk – all meals and snacks are taken upstairs in the kitchen. But certain “places” are triggers to eat more for me. Like social occassions. For example, on Saturday, I attended a community celebration for a little girl that is one of the national winners for a contest (created by me for a client) that recognizes youth volunteers. Didn’t know anyone beyond the family we were honoring and found myself spending way much time snacking at the food table when I wasn’t even hungry. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you eating at the kitche table – great idea!

    • Karen

      Ah yes, social settings do it for me too. But that is often more about the abundance of options that I don’t have at home:)

  13. I know that if I go upstairs, away from the kitchen, I will get distracted and forget about wanting to snack. When it is practical, I do go upstairs.

    I talked to my husband about moving the my desk and computer up to our spare bedroom for that reason. I don’t eat in front of the computer, but because it is in the kitchen (a buit in desk), I am always close to the sights and smells of food so I am triggered to snack. It is a constant struggle for me.

    • Karen

      I wonder if it would be different for me if my computer was at the desk in my kitchen? During my last diet honeymoon phase, when I was doing so well way back when, I spent a lot more of my evening on here.

  14. Ooooh, bravery in action. I love it! ::prepares pom-poms for cheering::

    Location isn’t really a problem for me. Well, eating in the kitchen is a problem because the elderly next door neighbors can see straight into my window and aren’t ashamed of watching. I tend to eat at my desk and either read articles or watch something I’ve recorded, like ‘Cupcake Wars’. I put away food after I’ve prepared my plate, so temptations for “extras” are removed. When I eat what’s on my plate, dinner is over.

    I struggle more with time of day, as in night snacking, and I’m still working on that one. I’m handling it “okay”, but I’ll feel better when it’s more than okay.

    • Karen

      Nights are worst for me too. And when I watch that darn show (and other food competitions) I really, really want to eat!

  15. GREAT plan. We don’t have a dining or kitchen table…so we always eat at the coffee table.

    It drives me CRAZY.

    Your post is giving me some great ideas about where I do eat and where I do relax though.

    Also, you CAN enter my giveaway for the JMS clothing. I didn’t quite understand, but apparently the prize is for a $500 gift card at Wal Mart where people can buy whatever they want. Thin people are entering like crazy (and I’m getting all kinds of cranky emails stating that I’m not fair for saying that they should be plus sized to enter), so you might as well have a chance too! Of course, only if you want to…

  16. Ewa

    I have a teenager son brain when it comes to eating. For me it is mindless snacking. Ever so often I fast, nothing big, half a day, or a full day. During my fast I often catch myself or should I say my hands reaching without me actually thinking for fruit or nuts. I often wonder how often I actually eat without realizing it. Having a rule about eating or even snacking at the table would probably make a big difference for me, if only my teenage son brain wanted to hear what I was telling it to do. 🙂

  17. I hate my hand me down kitchen table. By Christmas I hope to have a new one. Maybe I will use a pretty table. Lol. Maybe. I eat either at my bed, my laptop table or the back patio
    table. I should make the same vow. Maybe when I move at the end if the month I will do it, who wants to drag food upstairs.

  18. Unfortunately, I will eat anywhere and everywhere: my computer, kitchen table, recliner, car.

    But I work from home and am bouncing all over the place in my daily life like Tigger!!! Seriously!

    I think it is wise to limit yourself to the kitchen table. I have tried that in the past and it did help. It also helped to nicely arrange my food on a special plate…and make sure the TV was turned off.

    • Karen

      Well my evening pudding cup was quite boring at the table rather than in front of the TV where I usually eat it. Hmmm.

  19. It’s one of the changes I made when I started to lose the weight. I guess it worked 🙂 8 months of maintenance later. But I felt just like you I got kinda pissy about it. But the only time I would eat off plan or have a full on binge, I was standing up or eating on the couch. It makes the world of difference. Eating at the table is kind of boring some days, lol. Oh well it works.

    can’t wait to see how you feel after this week

  20. I guess I’ll be different and say location is important. I have certain places that I think I’ve trained myself to be hungry. If I take a break at work outside I’m not hungry. If I take one in the breakroom I’m starving and need to eat.

    Sitting on the couch or in the kitchen? I’m not hungry. Sitting at the table? I can’t wait to eat.

  21. I need to work more on not eating standing up in the kitchen (the babies’ goldfish jumpin’ into my mouth, a dried apricot from the container in the fridge, etc). I eat either at the dining room table (when we’re more than 3 for dinner), the kitchen table (when the babies are eating breakfast or lunch with me) or at my chair in the family room (most dinners, lunches, breakfasts). I have an ironclad rule about no food upstairs, so I can retreat to my bedroom with a book or music or TV if I’m feeling too drawn toward treats downstairs. Good luck with your goal this week!

    • Karen

      I never think to retreat to my room. Maybe I need to redecorate a sanctuary for myself up there – a comfy, cozy food-free sanctuary:)

  22. Wow, I am super impressed that you do not eat by your computer! My old one had all kinds of “junk” under the keyboard, mainly crumbs from one food or another…

    I like your idea of trying to set a goal to eat at a kitchen table. This is an excellent practice and one that I am working on, too. I am also working on being present with my food (like no paper, books or computer), but that is another story! Michele

  23. Hey (she whispers) would you consider a guest post for me?

  24. Genie@dietof51

    If I could stay out of my trigger location–the kitchen–I wouldn’t have a problem with food. Darn that old kitchen!

    When I come home from work, I feel ravenous and want to eat everything in sight, although I do eat breakfast and lunch. (Part of this problem is the boredom of my job.) If I can get through fixing dinner without a big personal raid on the kitchen, I’m usually good for the rest of the night.

    I’m so anxious to get out of the kitchen, I often eat my at-home meals standing up. That is a stupid and ridiculous truth. My husband and son will be sitting at the table eating the meal that I prepared, and I’ll be a few feet away, washing dishes and cleaning up while I eat. Just like my mom, except she’s thin.

    As you would say: SIGH. I want outta the kitchen. And, outta my boring job. As I would say: WHINE.

    • Karen

      It is a big problem for me to get home hungry like that. I try to pack some snack just in case. Much better to eat something to take the edge off. Otherwise I just go crazy. But it is the rest of the night that I struggle with. Sigh. Sorry about the job:(

  25. I really related to this post. So many of our weight struggles are about emotional eating. I am 47 years old and have spent more than half of my life struggling with my weight and eating issues. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – my mom is an emotional eater.

    I started doing yoga more than 12 years ago for back pain and it turned out to be just what I needed to develop my awareness and work through most of my issues around food.

    Having eating rules that force us to become present and mindful are so important to end the vicious cycle of emotional and mindless eating.

    I encourage you to stick with it and notice what comes up. Keep a journal with you to note the thoughts and feelings that present when you are eating at the table without distraction. It can be scary but so healing too!

    Have you read Women Food and God by Geneen Roth? It is on the best seller list right now. She really gets right to the heart of the matter of emotional eating. I couldn’t put it down and highly recommend it.

    • Karen

      I have not, but I intend to read it soon. I hear mixed things about it but lots and lots of bloggers have found things in her book that really make sense to them.

  26. Pingback: Waisting Time , Archive » Twiddling My Thumbs

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