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Posts Tagged ‘food guidelines’

Ever manage to inadvertently start following a healthy eating pattern?

This weekend, I realized that I’ve established two useful food guidelines over the past few years: I don’t eat in the car, and I don’t eat in front of the TV.

Both situations came about entirely by accident.

I purchased a car with a manual transmission six years ago, meaning that the “extra” hand required to eat while driving is only accessible when cruising speed has been reached on the interstate. City driving does not free up this hand. As a bonus, the car’s tiny cupholders are a marvel of engineering; the two up front are too small for anything but a 12-ounce soda can, and the larger one between the buckets seats requires the flexibility of a Cirque performer to reach.

The living room embargo is a bit more complicated. As we watched the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina approach our home in Mobile in 2005, we grabbed our table from the dining room and flipped it onto the bed in hopes of keeping it dry. We ended up with only the back third of the house flooded, but the teardown, rewiring, rebuilding, re-everything meant that the table was taken apart and stored in the bedroom closet for the better part of two years.

What I discovered during this time was that no matter your intentions, eating dinner in the living room off of the coffee table pretty much ensures that you WILL turn the TV on. It’s just what happens. And once the TV is on, conversation is off.

The first thing I set up upon arrival in Huntsville, therefore, was the table. There have been no dinners in front of Smallville, no breakfasts in front of The Soup. Just talking, newspaper-reading, and, occasionally, a subtle Pandora soundtrack.

Not eating dinner in the living room leads to not eating much of anything in the living room except for the rare bowl of movie popcorn. Nobody heads to the kitchen and grabs a bag of chips to mindlessly munch on; nobody sits down with a sleeve of cookies to polish off.

Focused eating is more likely to be healthy eating, and dining without distraction makes for much better family time. And you don’t have to buy a manual transmission or wait for a flood: Declare the driver’s seat off limits for noshing, and insist that nothing crosses the dining room border but popcorn. In both cases, your seat cushions and your waistline will thank you.

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