How to Read and Eat at the Same Time

by Sam

How to read and eat at the same time without getting food stains on your book nor missing a line ;-) Some handy-dandy tips to achieve this are ...

Calling me a ferocious reader is an understatement - it is like saying that a piranha is a fish that prefers to eat meat! Or that a cow rather likes grass and hay, or that bats fly mostly at twilight or night, or ... - you get the idea ;-)
Therefor I consider any time wasted that I spend with something else than reading, or writing for that matter, as wasted and eating is a big reading time waster in my books (pun intended) as, uhm, ehm, we all have to eat from time to time.

The Problem

Eating and reading at the same time is difficult, I know it, I do it all the time ;-) It is also messy, messy like in food stains on your book - obscuring words with tomato sauce *horror* or staining your top with food dribble - not cool! Especially if you don't have time for changing clothes before going out and, let's be honest, we readers have rarely enough time to do anything else than reading or writing. The good thing on the other hand is that I really don't care so much about what I eat. In fact I frequently refer to eating as 'this overrated activity to put food in my tummy in order to keep going' ;-) As long as it is moderately healthy and allows me to read at the same time, I don't care much what I actually eat - it is all good and all things shall be well ;-)

Note: This doesn't refer to a situation when we have guests, then I care very much about what I serve them and I do actually stop reading in order to eat with them ;-)

So here my 'eating whilst reading' tips that work for me and might well work for you also:

Choosing Your Food Wisely

All what you can eat with one hand is good, all that requires you to have the full use of both your hands at the same time is ~~~ less good! So choose the food you are about to eat whilst reading wisely! All sorts of finger food, what you can grab with one hand, whilst the other is holding the book open and turns the pages, is great. My favorite sort is homemade sandwiches, not the messy kind where you put the filling between two slices of bread and try not to drip said filling onto the book or your clothes, but the 'sealed' variety, called also paninnis, that you can make with a sandwich maker, like the one on the right!

The second best option for me is using chopsticks, I am quite good with them ;-) It also is a bit tidier and looks a bit more sophisticated than just grabbing some bits to eat with your bare, quickly greasy, fingers. Using chopsticks has also the advantage that both hands stay clean, quite a time saver if you have finished a book and need to go to the shelves to get another one - no need to wash your hands!

The other possibility is to cut up the food in advance, especially when it is food that was originally meant to be eaten with knife and fork at the same time, like steak and potato for example ... Disadvantage here is that cut up food cools quicker and your plate looks like that a mom would prepare for a toddler that is just learning to eat, but who cares?

And last, but not least, there are always soups, instant and homemade, when positioned the right way (see below) they are pretty safe to eat and they come in a variety of flavors, giving your meals a bit of - variety ;-)

Weighted Bookmark

looks like something your dentist uses, doesn't it?
Weighted Bookmark

Bookmarks - Nifty Helpers

Bookmarks, proper ones, not the ones that only serve to help your brain to remember where you stopped reading, are great to keep your book open - all the time!

To achieve this you have to look for what is called a 'weighted bookmark', such as the one on the right, not just a flimsy paper or cardboard one with a fancy ribbon. You want to keep those pages down until it is time for you to turn a page.

No matter how good and heavy your bookmark is, bear in mind that it only work well with reading material that is thin, like a magazine or a not-too-thick paperback. Really thick books, especially when new, have too much 'spring' in their spine to be impressed by a humble bookmark ;-)

Book Clips, Holders and Stands

Now things get serious, book clips, holders and stands are the bees-knees when it comes to reading and eating at the same time, both in style and comfort!


These are great for all kinds of reading material up to moderately thick paperbacks or hardbacks. They clip (look to the right for an example) to the top of the book and keep it open. Minor drawback is that they can obscure some words or letters and slightly bigger drawback is that turning pages isn't easy enough, especially when trying it one handed. You don't want to damage / rip a page accidentally, don't you? Plus points on the other hand are the low price and light weight, they are portable enough to take them pretty much everywhere.

Stands and Holders

The most important thing to consider when choosing a book stand or holder is the ease of turning pages and how well it keeps your book open! The examples on the right are all favorites amongst Amazon customers, click any image to read the reviews of people that actually own them!

I personally like the all wooden one best, it has a distinguished library feeling about it and fits well in with any interior design. The little black clips are there to hold your book open, in case you wonder ;-)




The transparent acrylic one is also nice, no distraction from these all important letters. Also very unobtrusive, it blends into the background so to speak ;-) Originally it was designed to clip onto a treadmill, but there is no reason it shouldn't work well on a more stationary object like a table! The rim, do you call it like that?, is slim enough to turn pages easily and broad enough to hold open pages securely in place.

And being as transparent as it is, it really fits any literary gender you put into it ;-)






The next one is a bit of a bare-bones model, less meant for heavy duty hardcover textbooks, but surely not much danger of obscuring obscure text neither! It is also not too easy to turn the pages with that one, but, on the other hand it is quite cheap and might be a good starter model!







And the last one is not only great to hold books open, but also able to accommodate an iPad, Kindle or any other ebook reader! Not only handy when sitting up, but also when laying down. With this model you could read like the old Romans used to eat, comfortably reclined on a nice couch or chaiselongue!

The one thing I like best about it, apart of the glowing reviews, is its price, less than $15 at the time of writing!



 Did I get you interested in one , or more, of them? Just click any image to learn more about their technical specs and to read what kind of reviews they have received already!


Rules for reading and eating

Pay attention to how things are arranged - never pass the food over the book, the food will drop!

One of the secrets law of nature - and eating - is that the closer you move any food to any printed material, the more gravity will magically increase until said food drops into the middle of the page. Normally exactly where the really interesting stuff is happening ;-)

To minimize the risk that this will occur, and to minimize also the risk that the food takes an alternative drop, onto your clothes, you need to arrange things neatly. Here how it is done:

The Top to Bottom System

Imagine a straight line pointing towards you, on the top is the book, then, in the middle, comes the plate or bowl with food and at the bottom, the receiving end so to speak, is you.

The Side Ways System (adjust accordingly if you are left-handed, great for use with chopsticks)

You, the food and your reading material are forming a triangle, again, you are at the bottom (really bad pun alert! --- You are a bottom feeder whilst reading - uh. oh, that was a bad one -sorry, couldn't resist!)

At your right (or left, see tagline above) rests your plate with food and in front of you is your book. The trick here is to pick up nonchalantly pieces of food and to transfer them to your mouth without it passing over the book!

Extra Tip:

Works best if you have a table at your right (or left) side and the book in your lap - great solution for alfresco dining and reading. And sushi does work really well with chopsticks - just saying ;-) And its yummy also ;-)

Kind of a side ways movement really. And if you are afraid for the cleanliness of your clothes - refer to items on the right ;-)

Is Reading and Eating at the same time unhealthy?

Utter rubbish! My mother tried to trick me with that one many moons ago - to make me more sociable, but I can tell you from 40+ years of experience that reading whilst eating has never affected my indigestion in the slightest.

Caveat: If you are trying to lose weight, you need to be aware of the fact that you might not notice how much you eat, distracted as you are by your latest novel, so keep portion sizes smallish and food healthish ;-)

The Ultimate Luxury!

Like in straight out of Startrek! For the discerning reader, svilles in all imaginable direction. Click image for more details!
LEVO Hands Free Book Stand for Hard Covers, Paperbacks, CookBooks, ...

Do you ever eat and read at the same time?

Updated: 07/20/2012, Sam
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Sam on 09/03/2012

Thanks Mira!

Mira on 09/03/2012

Hi Sam, I don't eat and read, but I seriously enjoyed your article! :-)

Sam on 08/31/2012

Stay with the healthy stuff;-) One danger when snacking and reading at the same time can be that you don't notice how quick that chocolate box empties ;-)

AngelaJohnson on 08/30/2012

i ALWAYS read when I eat alone. Unfortunately, when I want to read, I go looking for something to eat. I try to eat nuts or sunflower seeds; something that takes a while to chew and is fairly nutritious.

Sam on 08/24/2012

Yes, I heard that before, but I have never found out why some people deem it to be unhealthy.

katiem2 on 08/23/2012

I would never dream of eating while I read. My mom taught me that was a very unhealthy habit or while driving but that's just me.

Sam on 07/29/2012

Sorry to hear that BrendaReeves! I do so too, but I take care that nor food nor drink ever pass OVER a computer or laptop, that way the worst that can happen is that they drip on my desktop or clothes – easier to clean up ;-) SY

BrendaReeves on 07/28/2012

These are some nice products. I'm mainly guilty of eating and drinking while I'm on the computer. I ruined a Toshiba laptop doing that one time.

Sam on 07/23/2012

That's the real danger sheilamarie, we are so engaged in reading that we forget to notice when our tummy is full ;-) SY
PS Bibs are handy, especially when eating food that drops easily and / or has a lot of sauce ;-)

sheilamarie on 07/23/2012

What a fun article! I love the bibs. I need one of those even when I don't have a book on my lap. Actually, I find I eat too much when I read at the same time. I get too much into the book and forget to taste my food.

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