Since getting back on track, one of the hardest things for Jamie has been to try to eat things without too many distractions. She has a very busy professional life and (especially during lunch time) she does not want to take a break from what she is doing to eat and will often try to work and eat simultaneously. In session Jamie told me that the day before she was reading a research article while she was eating her prepared soup and sandwich. Since the article was somewhat hard to understand and took a lot of concentration, most of Jamie’s focus was going towards that.
After about three minutes Jamie tuned back into what she was eating and realized that she had eaten just over half her lunch and had barely noticed or tasted it at all. Jamie immediately became annoyed and chastised herself, saying “You should know better than this. I can’t believe you just ate half your lunch without paying any attention to it.” However, Jamie told me that as soon as she noticed what she was saying to herself, she thought about to things we had discussed in other sessions and reminded herself that beating herself up for mistakes will serve no positive function at all. She knew that the only thing it would do would be to make her feel worse and erode her confidence, which might then make it harder to get back and stay on track the rest of the day because it would cause her to doubt whether or not she was capable of it.
Jamie told me that she realized that what she had to do was take a moment to re-group and get over the fact that half her lunch was now gone, learn from the experience, and do things differently next time. Jamie then turned off her computer monitor and made sure that she ate the rest of her lunch slowly, while noticing and enjoying every bite. Jamie was once again reminded how crucial it is to enjoy ever y bite because she ended up feeling satisfied at the end of her lunch, but knew that she would not be feeling this way if she had continued to mindlessly eat while reading the article.
In session I gave Jamie a LOT of credit for being able to make a mistake and then recover from it right away. We discussed the fact that even successful dieters and maintainers make mistakes (because no one is perfect), but the difference is that they are able to recover from them immediately. Jamie and I also discussed how much confidence this situation gave her because she proved to herself that she could make a mistake, identify and respond to her sabotaging thinking, and get right back on track. I pointed out to Jamie that this situation is also interesting because it started out as something that could have made her feel bad and guilty – eating half her lunch without noticing or enjoying it – and because she was able to recover right away it actually ended up making her feel really good about herself.
Jamie and I also did some problem-solving and she decided that until she was able to split her focus better, for the time being she would work on not doing anything distracting while eating lunch and would instead focus on enjoying her eating. I helped Jamie formulate responses to some sabotaging thinking we predicted she might have about taking time away from work to eat so that she would be able to strongly remind herself just why it was worth it to turn off her computer monitor and take time to ensure that her lunch gave her both physical and psychological satisfaction.