There is so much more to being healthy then simply what you eat. Sometimes, taking a moment to slow down and focus on “how” you eat can actually begin to make a difference in how you feel and possibly even in your weight. Healthy digestion begins in the mouth where the digestive enzymes in your saliva start to break down the food you are eating. When food is easier to digest, your body doesn’t have to work so hard on breaking down the food, and can focus instead on assimilating all those quality vitamins and nutrients you just ate. In order for this process to happen, you have to actually chew your food. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately in the fast paced, rush everywhere, do a million things at once kind of world we live in, most of us are lucky if we are able to scarf down a sandwich, while sending an email, talking on the phone, “tweating” and saving the world all at the same time. The experience of eating has changed and it’s time we stop swallowing our food whole and take back the joys of eating. Ladies and Gentleman let me reacquaint you with chewing and mindful eating.
Eating mindlessly can lead to overeating. When you are trying to accomplish a handful of things all at the same time, including eating, it takes your brain longer to connect with your stomach to register that it has eaten and just may be full. Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. It also allows you to actually taste your food, leaving you and your brain more satisfied, and not looking for that extra something right after a meal. When you slow down and take the time to enjoy the eating experience with all your senses, you just may find you eat less and in the long run, may weigh less as well. Here are tips to help you get started.
1) Get Unplugged: Turn off the TV, put down that blackberry, tell the twitterverse goodbye for an hour and just focus on the meal you are about to have. I know, it’s quiet; I promise you will get used to it.
2) Play with your Food: When was the last time you smelled your food or really noticed the texture? Does the plate look inviting? Does just looking at it make you mouth water. Wake up those senses!
3) Loose the Race: Do you usually shovel the food in? Do you breath in between bites? Are you panting and sweating when you reach the finish line? Be the last one finished for once. Try putting the fork down in between bites, being sure you are breathing and savoring the food.
4) Chew: How many times do you typically chew a bite of food? No really, go ahead and count. Most of us are lucky if we chew 5 or 10 times depending on the size of the bite. Now try to chew 30-50 times. Notice how the consistency of the food changes, the flavors of the food changes, and notice how much longer it is taking you to finish a meal, leaving less time for a second helping.
5) Find the Joy: Taking time with a meal allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. Eating is something we will do, every day for the rest of our lives, why not slow down and enjoy it.
Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt at Flickr for Creative Commons