Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hypocrisy Now

Last week on my shift at the Bastyr teaching clinic I counseled a patient about mindful eating. I was explaining the effects on appetite and digestion of watching TV while eating, when I was stopped short by the realization that I do this very thing myself.

Though I have self-righteously convinced myself that my husband and I don’t watch TV because we don’t have cable, we do subscribe to Netflix and watch movies or television shows almost every night with our dinner plates in our laps. Oh, the hypocrisy!

Does this make me a bad counselor? I don’t know. I’ve been considering this question for some time, at least since I signed up for that first biology class with the distant hope of enrolling in a nutrition program. Do I always have to walk my talk? After all, I have the same book knowledge as a nutritionist who eats dinner at the table every night. I can explain the concepts to a client just as well as she can. I understand the potential consequences and can just as passionately hold forth on the subject, even if I go home that very night and park my own butt on the couch for dinner.

What if being subject to the same temptations as my client – craving some mindless entertainment, not wanting to think up conversation topics after a long day – gives me more insight into the challenges she faces and a greater ability to support her as she tries to make changes? This is probably just a lame justification for my own bad behavior, but honestly, I can’t imagine trying to clear that dining room table of books and papers and dog toys and keys every night for dinner.

Besides, I practice mindful eating in other ways. I express gratitude for my food before I eat it and thank my husband for preparing it for me when he cooks. I eat slowly and listen to my stomach when it tells me I’ve eaten enough (yes, even when I’m sitting in front of the television I can hear the messages my stomach is sending because I’ve trained myself to listen).

Ah well, I suppose these are the challenges of becoming an “expert” in something. I still have the year of my internship to shape my philosophy of nutrition and learn how to incorporate it into my own lifestyle.

In the meantime, what do you think? Please comment! Don't be afraid to call me a hypocrite to my face.


  1. I understand what you are saying, right now I am throwing down my breakfast in front of the computer checking email, facebook, blogspot.. I know the concept of mindful eating and practice it at different times throughout the day, but it is my choice to eat this way when I want to. I love love love eating a huge bowl of popcorn in front of a movie, but I still can be a good counselor by giving someone the information of portion size and mindful eating and support them if they wish to change their habits - but it all comes down to personal choice. My own philosophy is to take ownership of my choice. This is my choice to eat in front of the computer and it is providing me with my needs at this moment. It is not helpful for me to beat myself up over the decision, and if I end up with indigestion, maybe I will make a different choice tomorrow morning!

    But also, it is good to remember what you said, we still have a year to go of forming our initial philosophies and then it will be a lifetime commitment to tweaking them and finding our own balance. Whether or not that balance involves the tube!

  2. Thanks for your comments, fellow hypocrite. We could almost have our own Facebook group!

  3. Naming our facebook group:

    Hypocrites Unite ?
    Hypocrites Anonymous ?

    Proud.. or Shamed.. The choice is yours! ;)

  4. I almost always multitask while eating-- usually checking email or facebook or watching tv or reading.... If you were naturally perfect in every way you would have a tough time relating to your clients. for example, Laine is terrified of weight loss patients because she has never struggled with her weight. I think going through the same struggles is important. It's just like Michelle telling us we should all do the elimination diet before we put our clients on it.

  5. I have yet to do the elimination diet. It terrifies me to think that there might be something I could never eat again!

    Anna, how about "Hippocrates' Hypocrites: First Do No Harm"

  6. Carol - I sadly do the same thing most nights as well! Especially if I am alone. When I'm with my boyfriend sometimes I'll insist that we shut of the TV and we sit face to face on the floor (there is no kitchen table). Whenever we're eating at my place though, we have no choice since I don't have a TV, which is kind of nice. The mindful eating thing is definitely a challenge, especially in out culture!