May’s Tiny Change: Sit Down to Eatby Elise Museles
If you’re just joining us, this post is part of my year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change – over a year, it really adds up! You can read about it here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges. (Did I mention that there are lots of theme-related GIVEAWAYS each month?! Read on!)
If you’ve tried one of my #12tinychanges already, you’ve heard me say this before (but I really mean it this time!): May’s tiny change is simple and doable! In fact, it’s as easy as sitting down.
This month, we’re going to sit down to eat, as often as possible.
We’re not aiming for a tablecloth and two different types of forks.
We’re not trying to make every meal a three-course marathon.
We’re not even shooting for a 100% success rate.
We’re just trying to make rushed, mindless eating the exception instead of the rule.
Who among us hasn’t been there – eating over the sink, picking the kids’ leftovers off their plates, standing in front of the fridge while scrolling through Instagram? (My hand is raised!) It can happen to all of us, and it’s unhealthy for all of us.
If you need more convincing, here are my top reasons why we should all eat sitting down:
Sitting = Knowing
When we eat on the go (slugging smoothies as we drive or distractedly nibbling pb & j energy bars as we answer emails) our bodies sometimes don’t even realize that what just happened was a meal. Oftentimes, when we indulge in mindless snacking and full meals, we eat more than we need – and don’t really enjoy any of it.
Stop Moving, Stop Stress
Shoving food into our mouths isn’t relaxing. Trying to eat a collard wrap while navigating rush hour is not a calming (or satisfying!) experience. Eating while we multitask can actually be quite stressful, and stressful situations can lead to the release of cortisol. Excess cortisol can lower metabolism, decrease immunity, and cause gastrointestinal problems. We can avoid all that if we just spend a few extra minutes eating veggie soup at a table instead of drinking it in a mug in the car!
Connecting > Consuming
Dozens of hours go into growing, harvesting, transporting, and preparing the food we eat. Water, sunshine, fossil fuels, and elbow grease make it possible. You yourself put time and effort into preparing each dish! So why rush through the best part: eating it?
Something that really helps me connect to my food: I take five deep breaths before I eat. It centers me, clears my mind, and turns my attention to the delicious meal in front of me.
Meals Create Community
Of course, we can’t eat every meal surrounded by friends and family, but sharing food is one of the best ways to connect and bond with others. Eating together is an opportunity to decompress and catch up on our lives. We tell stories, laugh, support each other, and make new memories.
When we cook together or prepare family recipes, we reconnect with our past and our heritage. Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes don’t have the same calming, healing properties if we eat them out of the mixing bowl, standing over the counter, as they do when we pass them down the table and each take a scoop onto our plates.
So how do we find the time to eat sitting down?
Often, it’s as simple as making the commitment and realizing that, yes, we do have the few extra minutes to sit down if we make it a priority. Think of all the energy that goes into cooking food. We want to appreciate our efforts and not just shove it into our mouths without tasting it!
Let’s be honest about another mealtime distraction: messing around on social media or flipping through TV channels! If we can scroll through Instagram, we can sit down and eat that blueberry bliss smoothie bowl or quinoa & black bean salad.
If you really do need a little extra time in your jam-packed day, what if you set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier? Or do some meal prep on Sundays? With a little bit of foresight, sitting down to eat is possible!
To help make this change more interesting and doable, I’ve teamed up with some incredible partners for awesome giveaways every week this month on Instagram. (Think: matcha tea sipped at a table with intention, organic fragrant and healing spices to create meals that are meant to be savored, activities to help with stillness…and more.) Follow along on Instagram for updates!
Now I want to hear from you! How often do you sit down to eat your meals and snacks? If it’s something you struggle with, what stops you from making it part of your day? Let’s inspire one another to make eating more enjoyable and meaningful.