Growing up, many people felt like they had to shovel their food into their mouths so they could get as much as they wanted because they were competing with siblings or because they were having contests with friends. Was this you?
As we got older, new responsibilities took over our calendars – jobs that start early in the morning, often go through our lunch break, and leave us tired by the end of the day. When we get home we still feel the burden of our to-do list, whether it’s work or personal. This leads us to eating quickly a lot of the time so that we can move onto the next task at hand.
What has this meant for the way we eat, and in fact, for the way that we live our lives?
We do this in all aspects of our lives – from our encounters with people (now often done by email or Facebook instead of in person or even on the phone), to how we take care of ourselves (we rush through our morning routine to get out of the door on time and collapse into bed exhausted by the time we get there at night).
If I could tell you how to transform the above lifestyle into one with reduced stress, increased energy, more happiness and more time for you would you be interested?
If so, keep reading because this could change your life!
Did you know that digestion starts in the mouth? We often think of it as a function of our stomach, but some of the most important work happens much sooner. We release enzymes in our mouths that help to break down the food, but here’s the trick – we have to chew!
Do a little experiment for me the next time that you eat something. Count how many times you chew a single bite of food before you swallow it. 5? 10? Next time, aim for somewhere between 30 and 50 bites. Fair warning – the first time you do this, it may feel almost impossible, but I promise you that it can be done. When we chew our food more thoroughly, we allow the enzymes in our mouth to really get started on the digestion process, which taxes the stomach much less. You know that tiredness that you often feel after a meal? That’s because your stomach requires energy to digest your food. Imagine if you help the process get started how much energy you could have to put towards other things!
So here’s the tip that could change not only how you feel but also change your relationship with food …
Mindful eating is not just about chewing your food, though that’s a big part of it. Ideally, you will get to a point where you can be mindful of your food from beginning (where the food came from) to end (how it makes you feel). For now, let me get you started with a couple of things to keep in mind and try.
As you get started, know that this is easier to do when you’re eating alone unless you get a group of friends together and all try it together, which could actually be a lot of fun!
So here we go:
- Find a quiet place to eat – We often eat with a lot of distractions (tv, reading, talking). Find a place where you can sit and focus. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths and be thankful for your food.
- Pace yourself with your bites – Now you’re aiming for 30-50 chews per bite. In addition to aiding digestion, slowing down when you eat will actually help with portion control. We usually over-stuff ourselves because we eat so fast that we eat past the point of being full without knowing it because we miss our body’s cues. As you begin to slow your meals down, you’ll be more aware of when you’re getting full, and you may find that you need less food per meal than you are used to.
- Discover the new taste of old favorites – One of the first times that I tried this experiment, I did it with some leftovers. What amazed me was when I tasted all of these flavors that I hadn’t remembered when I’d rushed through my meal the previous. As we chew and break down our food, we release a lot of the flavors and spices that are well integrated into the food and often wasted on us when we rush.
I encourage you to try this out and let me know about your experience in the comments section.
I’ll talk about mindful eating again, but if you have any questions or you want to start exploring this more with me now, contact me and we will set up time to talk.
Enjoy your day, and your food!