breakfast shakeWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.
Challenge #40 Primary Eating
We, meaning all of us, are great multitaskers or we try to be. There aren’t enough hours in the day and so we try to get two things done at once. And one of our favorite multitasking behaviors is eating coupled with another activity. This is called secondary eating as opposed to primary eating, or eating meals without distraction. A USDA study found that Americans now spend about 78 minutes a day engaged in secondary eating and drinking. The top three distracters are: 1) eating in front of the TV, 2) eating in front of the computer (especially while working) and 3) eating in the car.

In his book Mindless Eating Dr. Brian Wansink cited a poll of 1,521 people that found:
• 91% typically watch TV while eating meals at home
• 62% are sometimes too busy to sit down and eat
• 35% eat lunch at their desk while working
• 26% often eat while driving

Distractions of all kinds make us forget how much we eat, extend how long we eat even when we’re not hungry, and we cannot pay attention to what and how we are eating.

We did a version of this challenge last September when we powered down at lunch. I was looking forward to primary eating for all meals while Bill was not. He likes to eat in front of the TV or his computer and if he could he would eat all his meals in those two spots. We agreed to eat all meals at the table without his beloved iPad. Since he works from home, I had to trust him with his breakfast and lunch since I was not there to keep an eye on him.

Vicki’s observations:
• I really liked this challenge. I much prefer eating at the table because it seems more civilized. When we lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, I noticed that people did not eat everywhere like here in the States. I commented on this to a friend of ours and he said to me, “Why would you eat anywhere but at the table? That is rude.” That has always stuck with me.
• I know I pay more attention to how I am eating when I’m at the table. I am much more aware of putting my fork down (challenge #5) and counting my chews per bite (challenge #17).
• I know I eat slower and eat less at the table than in front of the TV.
• If I eat dinner at the table Bill will also eat dinner at the table. It’s our time to catch up on the day and talk things over.
• The most difficult meal for me was breakfast on workdays. I usually bring my meal to work and consume it at my desk while checking email and getting ready for morning clinic. I went into our break room and sat at the table. Just like when we did the challenge of no desktop dining at lunch, (which I still do faithfully) my work still got done and my emails still got checked. The time spent eating at the table did not affect my productivity.
• A pleasant side effect of eating breakfast in the break room was touching base with the other early morning staff. People came in to put their lunch in the refrigerator or get a cup of coffee and it was nice to have a little morning conversation before the doors opened. Trees, our insurance gal, and I enjoyed our morning shakes as you can see in the photo.

Bill’s observations:
• I love to eat in front of the TV and my shirts prove it. They are all full of stains down the front from where I drop my food while slouching on the sofa watching TV.
• Vicki is right. I like to eat in front of the TV, in front of my computer or at the table with my iPad. No sense wasting time eating and not getting something else accomplished.
• I really don’t like eating like some people do….except for ice cream. I eat to nourish my body and to give it energy. Some people really enjoy the taste of the food and want to savor it so I can see them eating at the table and not having any other interruptions but this is not me.
• I did complete the challenge but I must say it was not as enjoyable as other challenges we have done and I was glad when it ended.
• I am sure there is something good about just eating and not doing something else at the same time. Perhaps I will find that out some day.

Mealtime should be quality time, not “mealti-tasking”. Anything that takes away our focus from eating makes us more likely to overeat. It’s time to connect with family and/or friends and enjoy your food. Take the time to savor the flavor and get the most from each bite and each chew.

Next week we gear up for following another popular diet. No one said it was healthy thanks to the food manufacturers for providing lots of junk food options.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule
Challenge #29 Feel Good Week
Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day
Challenge #31 It’s a stretch
Challenge #32 TLC for heart health
Challenge #33 The sounds of silence
Challenge #34 10,000 steps a day
Challenge #35  35/350
Challenge #36 Have a super week
Challenge #37 Stress busters
Challenge #38 Walking the tightrope
Challenge #39
The 7PM cut off


Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.” Contact Vicki at

WBI green