Mindfulness is not just for crunchy yogis and those who chant. Being mindful means being in the moment and slowing down to enjoy our food. With our busy lives, often we’re stuffing food in our mouths so we can get to the next task.
Why is eating slowing important? Eating too quickly can make us feel sick or bloated. We’ve all eaten too fast and know how that feels. Our bodies also have built in mechanisms to tell us when we’re full. If we eat too quickly (in less than 10 to 15 minutes) our body doesn’t receive the “full” signal in time, and we continue to eat, leading to the discomfort we just mentioned.
Being mindful, slowing down and taking the time necessary to eat is a simple, free technique that can play a big role in a healthy relationship with food and good nutrition.
Take these steps to get started:
1) MAKE TIME TO SIT AND ENJOY YOUR FOOD
If you can, literally sit and plan to eat. Planning will give you the time to relax. Take some belly breaths. This will stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (think rest and digest), smell your food, and then EAT SLOWLY.
2) PUT OUR UTENSILS DOWN
We suggest people stop eating at 80% full. If you eat slowly enough, your body will have time to catch up and realize you’re eating. This is the only way to figure out what 80% means to you. Eat until you’re satisfied but not stuffed.
3) CHEW YOUR FOOD
Digestion starts in the mouth. Ever cook your favorite meal and start salivating? That’s because your salivary glands are beginning the digestive process! Signals are sent to the brain to let the body know you’re consuming food and enzymes are being released. Mechanical digestion starts here--food is physically being broken down into smaller pieces so the digestive organs can break them down even further and assimilate them better.
4) AVOID DISTRACTION
Being present while you eat leads to breathing. Breathing equals more blood flow and oxygen to digestive organs, and therefore higher absorption of nutrients and metabolic force. Be in the moment with your food (not your TV, phone, book, or car) and you will have an easier time digesting and keeping off unwanted weight.