Its not only what you eat, it's also how you eat it!
It's something I talk about all the time - be mindful while your eating, But what does that really mean? How is that actually achieved?
Well last night as I ate my dinner, I was mindful and reapped the benefits. So here are some tips to get you started!
Everyone is talking about mindfulness and being present in each moment and being mindful while eating is an extension of this.
So first of all, slow down, no rushing, sit down at the table and take a few minutes before you eat to just sit and centre, take a few deep breathes if you like, say grace, express grattude or at least eat with a thankful attitude. There, better all ready!
Now time to engage your senses, look at your food, smell your food, touch your food... OK you get my drift... this appreciation and gratitude helps us to be mindful but also is the first step to great digestion, digestion starts in the mouth and smelling and admiring our food and thinking about our food stimulates our digestive system and the mouth produces saliva and our tummy starts to grumble!
So now you can taste it! Again engaging the senses, obviously taste and touch come into play as you experience the textures and temperature of your food and of course flavour! Now make sure you chew, tonight I was concious of chewing each mouthful at least 20 times, I was really able to savour the meal. I always feel more satisfied if I eat slowly and often still hungry when I rush regardless of how much I've eaten.
Because we are aiming to eat with intention and pay attention to our food - we need to avoid TV or electronic devices that distract us from eating our meal - be aware and in the moment. It also helps to avoid too much mindless chatter or heated debates over dinner - keep the converstaion slow, pleasent and mindful.
Also be aware of how hungry you are and don't overeat... I have read and also through personal experience noticed that you generally feel satisfied 20minutes after you start eating, almost like it takes a while for you body to register, so find if I rush my meal and eat really quickly I often still feel hungry regardless of how much I eat and likewise if I eat a small quantity and take my time I will feel more satisfied and less likely to have cravings later.
When we slow down while eating and be mindful we are actullay activating the 'rest and digest' response (parasympathetic nervous system) - this allows for optimal digestion and absorption of our meal and also better elimination. We also reduce stress and are less likely to overeat and therefore less likely to gain weight. It is also said to increase immune function.
We currently live most of our lives in 'fight or flight mode' which is not the ideal state for body funtcioning as it increases our heart rate, disrupts our endocrine system, suppresses digestion, immunity and detoxification.
From and Ayurvedic perspective, good digestion is paramont and poor digestion leads to 'ama' or toxins resulting from partially digested foods and wastes not being eliminated effectivly.
Tonight I ate on my own in silence - it was bliss - I was gazing over the back garden savouring each mouthful - it just felt good for me, it felt right! This does not usually happen for me as I am usually up and down from the table, negoiating with two young children and getting them what they need and not focusing on my meal... so you dont need to sit in silence but it reminded me of the benefits of mindful eating and complelled me to write this blog post.
Why don't you give it a go and see for yourself, Set a goal to eat mindfully at least once a day and notice how you feel. This simple technique is free and you can start right away with loads of health benefits, what are you waiting for!
So in a nutshell;
slow down, be in the moment, and be grateful
focus on your food, use your senses to appreciate every aspect - how does in look, taste, smell, and the texture!
no distractions, electronic devices, uncomfortable conversations - maintain a peaceful atomosphere
chew your food, 20-25 times per mouthful
take your time - it takes 20mins for the brain to register satiety therefore eating too quickly can lead to overeating
Some of the benefits;
better digestion, absorption and elimination becasue you have prepared your body to receive food, chewed it effectivly to maximise absorption and initiated the 'rest and digest' response for effective digestion and elimination
less chance of binge eating, emotional eating, overeating and weight gain
improved immunity due to better absorption of essential vitamins and minerals and the body functioning in the optimal rest and digest state as opposed to being in a state of high alert and stress
So remember, its not just about what you eat, its also how you eat
and your not what you eat, but more accurately, what you digest!