by Gina Watkins
Do you eat breakfast while rushing to get ready for your day? Do you eat while in front of your computer reading social media or reading the news? How about while driving in traffic? Multi-tasking while eating is not only common-place but it socially acceptable and many times a prerequisite for managing a job, a family and a life. When we move through our daily activities under stress it can often lead to mindless eating including eating too much, too unhealthy and much too fast.
When we eat too fast we can create some severe digestive upset and destroy our metabolism. Did you know that digestive stress is about 25% WHAT we eat and 75% WHO we are being when we eat. The more mindful and relaxed you are during meal and snack time, the more digestive power you have. You can eat the healthiest meal you could dream up, but if you eat it under a stressed or anxious state your digestion is dramatically diminished. The lower your stress level and the slower you eat, the faster you metabolize and the more energy you will have. The more energy you have the better you feel in your body.
Here are some tips for slowing down and increasing mindfulness when you eat.
· Before sitting down to a meal:
o Turn off all electronics and put on some relaxing music.
o Take 2 minutes for an active relaxation exercise.
§ Be in a comfortable seat, Close your eyes, Breath In to a count of 5, Hold for 5 and Breath Out for a count of 7. Do this about 10 times.
· Use your senses to bring awareness to what is on your plate.
o Savor the colors of your food.
o Smell the flavors as you bring the food up towards your mouth. Does it remind you of anything?
o What does the texture of the food feel like in your mouth? Chewy, crunchy, smooth, hard?
o How does it taste? Sweet, salty, bitter, savory?
o What sounds do you hear when your utensil moves across your plate or bowl or when you bite down on your food?
· Try chewing each bite your food 30 times. You may be surprised at how few times you actually chew your food! 30 times may seem impossible but just give it a try. Your saliva has important enzymes that help break down the food and make it easier to digest and more nutrients are absorbed in the body.
· Put your fork down between bites and take a couple full breaths
· Whether you are eating alone or with others, share out loud someone or something you are grateful for that day.
Letting go of old habits and creating new ones around your meal and snack times can be challenging but can bring amazing changes to how you feel in our body and mind. How we experience and manage our health issues, weight, energy level, sleep routine and even bodily aches and pains are all related to how we manage stress in our life. Try these tips for a week and notice any changes is how you feel and if it has impacted any other areas of your life.