Now, what counts as a “huge chunk of time?” My rule of thumb is I think of the pacing in a slow restaurant. Sometimes my salad comes out and then there’s quite a gap before the entree is served. So be it. It’s still one meal. But would I eat part of my meal, go run an errand, and then come back and finish my meal? No.
The second principle is that it’s important to make eating a priority, and to not let it be relegated to last place in our busy lives. The good news is we’re not eating six meals a day, or grazing all day long, so the periods of time where food needs to take the forefront are few and brief. But I think it’s important to remember we live in a culture where people rarely make time for meals. They grab food “on the go” or “fit it in,” or simply don’t eat anything all day, only to arrive home exhausted and famished, at which point they sit on the couch and eat for the rest of the night as a “reward.” Bright Line Eating is a very different way of life. We slow down and nourish ourselves three times a day with food, and those times need to be set aside and considered of paramount importance. But then we finish the meal and move on. Life in between meals is just as important. I’m a fan of eating relatively quickly (not shoveling it in, but not dawdling either), and then getting on with life. But when it’s meal time, I STOP what I’m doing and eat my meal. Doesn’t matter what else is going on around me. I find that usually, if this seems impossible, I haven’t set my boundaries clearly enough. Most meals can be eaten in 20 minutes or so, give or take, and it’s literally illegal for a workplace not to grant me that time to eat. The work will be there when I’m done, and I’ll do a better job at it if I’m not trying to eat at the same time.
The third principle is, to put it bluntly…shit happens. Sometimes a meal needs to be split. For example: about a year ago, I was leaving for a work trip to a conference with a colleague. We were caravaning to the airport together. The flight left at 7 p.m. or something like that, so I told my colleague I’d be out in the parking lot, made my way out to my car, and sat there, eating the dinner I had packed and brought from home. I thought I had plenty of time. He came out to the parking lot much earlier than I expected, rapped on my window, and pointed out for various reasons I hadn’t considered, we really needed to get a move on and head over to the airport. I pushed back on him and asked if it was really essential we leave NOW, or could I finish my food. He said there was no time to finish and explained again why. I saw he was right. I put my food away and we drove in our separate cars to the airport. After we checked in through security, I took out the rest of my food and finished it. I can count on one hand the number of times things like that have happened in the 11+ years I’ve been doing BLE, but they do happen.
The most common reason for a protracted meal is the one I alluded to before, and that’s slow service at a restaurant or even worse, at a wedding. For some reason, sit-down weddings sometimes take three hours for all the food to come out, and if I’ve arranged ahead of time to have fresh fruit during the dessert portion, I sometimes find I’m eating my fruit a very long time after I ate the rest of my meal. It can’t be helped. But on a day-to-day basis, I most definitely make it a point to eat my food in one sitting.