vicki challenge no handWelcome to our program dietitian, Vicki Bovee, and her husband Bill’s healthy lifestyle challenge. 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. 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 #5–If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Many of us eat too fast. We hook on the feed bag and away we go. This may be a habit we learned when we were younger, or possibly we had a job that didn’t allow enough time to eat. Sometimes we are just in too big of hurry to get on with our too busy lives. I read that the average American eats dinner in about 7 minutes. That’s less time than between commercial breaks for your typical TV show. That means you could start eating your dinner at the end of a commercial break, finish it, and have time left over before the next ad comes on.
There is more research coming forth about how our eating rate affects our caloric intake. When we eat too fast, we eat too much. We are not giving our body the 20 minutes it needs to send signals from the stomach to the brain to tell our head we have had enough to eat. Slowing it down improves our digestion and makes us more mindful of our eating.
Our eating goes something like this…we have food in our mouth and are chewing. At the same time we are scoping out the next load and getting it ready and locked into position. We swallow, shovel in the waiting forkful before the swallowed food makes it to our stomach, and start the next load. We are working on 3 bites of food at one time.
I thought this was going to be a more difficult challenge for me than Bill, but he had some struggles too. He is a slower eater and I am always finished eating much sooner than he is. I admit, this is a hard habit to break and though I have been conscious of my fast eating for years, it doesn’t come to me automatically to eat slowly. I need to chant the mantra while I am eating, “If there is food in my mouth, there should be nothing in my hand,” to slow me down.
After you take a bite of food put down the fork, spoon, or your hand-held food. Physically let go of it. Do not pick up the fork, spoon, or food until you have swallowed what is in your mouth. Wait for it to get all the way down your throat and into your stomach. Even if you are drinking something, put down the glass between swallows and don’t drink until your mouth is empty.

Vicki’s observations:
• You have to allow yourself enough time to eat.
• This is easier to do if you are sitting at a table and eating from a plate.
• Putting the food down on the kitchen counter while you eat standing up doesn’t work. See challenge #1.
• It’s difficult to put down and release a messy hand-held food. It would be easier to eat with a fork.
• I enjoyed my food more. I also found myself taking smaller bites and looking at my food.

Bill’s observations:
• Eating in front of the TV doesn’t work. I’m leaning back and I don’t want to sit up to put the food down. (Eating in front of the TV is rarely a good idea for a bunch of reasons.)
• This wasn’t an easy challenge. I’m doing something else while I am eating and not paying attention. I had to concentrate.
• Get rid of the distractions.
• This is probably easier to do when you eat alone because it is easier to pay attention.
• I think I need to do this challenge again.

Your challenge this week, should you choose to accept it, is to put down your fork, spoon, or any food you are holding in your hand until you have swallowed what is your mouth. And do not drink while you have food in your mouth.
For help with next week’s challenge, check out days and times for your local farmers’ markets.
Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?
The road to success is always under construction. Click Here
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down. Click Here
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient. Click Here
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home. Click Here
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan. Click Here


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


Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian with Western Bariatric Institute (WBI) with over 25 years experience in weight management and 12 years in bariatric nutrition. Vicki works with both weight loss surgery patients and nonsurgical weight loss patients. Vicki received her master’s degree in nutrition from Montana State University and her Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.