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When was the last time you ate a meal without any distractions? And by distractions I mean watching TV, checking your email, playing around on the computer, working while eating, etc.
Probably can’t remember can you?
That’s because meals for most people aren’t actual events in the day, they’re just part of their typical multitasking routines.
But that shouldn’t be the case. Meals should be events in your day, just like going to work or spending time with your family are.
Meals used to be a time for family gatherings and celebration. Every night when I was a kid my mom, brother and I sat together at the table and had dinner. It wasn’t always a home-cooked meal, but we always found the time to sit together and talk about our days.
Another concept I was introduced to while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the concept of “mindful eating.”
What that means is slowing down and taking the time to really enjoy your food. It means chewing your food, putting your fork down between bites and savoring the food in front of you.
So often we eat without thinking, wolfing down our food, barely taking a minute to even breathe between bites.
Eating this way can cause indigestion, upset stomach, acid reflux and a whole slew of other health issues.
You probably think the digestion process starts in your stomach, but it actually starts in your mouth. Chewing and the saliva in your mouth breaks down the food and the nutrients in the food, to make them easier for your body to absorb and digest.
When you skip the chewing process and instead sort of chew but mostly just take huge bites that get swallowed almost whole, that’s when digestive problems arise.
Chew. Put your fork down between bites. Be mindful of the food you’re eating.
By having some appreciation for the food in front of you (and for the fact that you actually get to eat regular meals, even though most of the world doesn’t), you’ll shift your mindset with eating.
Another bonus is that mindful eating and chewing allows your stomach time to send the message to your brain that you’re full, which means you’ll end up eating less. When you wolf down your food, your brain doesn’t have time to get the “I’m full” message until after you’ve eaten so much you’re stuffed (it takes about 20 minutes or so for the message process to occur).
Today, your challenge is to eat at least one meal mindfully. Sit at your table, turn off all distractions and focus on one thing and one thing only: eating. Chew slowly, savor every bite and enjoy.
That’s what food is all about!
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