The way you approach food and eating is a good reflection of how you approach your life as a whole. If you’ve made the effort to be more conscious about eating a healthy diet, do yourself a favor – pay more attention to how you eat. After all, feeding the body is more than just a necessity of life.
With an average of three meals a day, most of us will eat over 1,000 meals every year! Why not use those eating hours to slow down, practice presence, and get the most out of the food you consume.
So before you take another bite, check out these simple yet powerful tools for changing the way you eat for the better.
1. Eat sitting down.
Eating while standing over the sink or scarfing toast while running out the door just doesn’t cut it. Plant yourself in a comfortable seat and give your body a chance to focus on digesting.
2. Give yourself time.
Do you find yourself rushing to eat breakfast or inhaling your lunch before your work break is over? It’s important to give yourself time to sit, enjoy your food, and let your digestive system do its job. Use meal times as an opportunity to take a little break from your busy schedule and be fully present with the experience of eating.
3. Remove distractions.
Put down your smart phone. Turn off the TV. Turn off the music. Close your book. Fold up the newspaper. Shut your laptop. Try eating a meal in silence, without conversation, without a screen involved. Removing distractions allows you to be fully present with your food and the experience of eating. Give it a try for one meal and see if you notice any difference.
4. Give thanks before eating.
Expressing gratitude is a beautiful practice of acknowledging the gifts we’ve been given in life. Take a moment before each meal to bring your awareness to these gifts of abundance and nourishment, and admire the food you have sitting in front of you.
Give thanks for the abundance of the earth, and for the people who grew, picked, and transported the ingredients. Give thanks for the people who prepared your meal, and to your body for digesting it, absorbing it, and using it to create a more healthy and vibrant you.
5. Chew your food.
Like an efficient factory assembly line, every part of your digestive system has a very specific and important job. If a system isn’t doing its job properly, it affects everyone else along the line.
Digestion starts in the mouth, where your teeth pulverize food and your saliva begins breaking it down. If you skip this essential first step, or cut it short because you are distracted or in a hurry, your digestive system suffers. Food that isn’t chewed enough can cause symptoms such as gas, bloating, digestive upsets, and poor nutrient absorption.
Your stomach doesn’t have teeth. So slow down, chew, and let your mouth do its job so that your stomach and intestines can do theirs.
6. Put your fork down in between bites.
Have you ever stopping mid-bite and realized that you were out of breath? I still catch myself sometimes eating in “vacuum cleaner mode” when I’m in a hurry, talking with friends or just really hungry. I know I’m not alone.
Try this: Between each bite, put your fork down, and only pick it up again once you’ve swallowed the bite you were just working on. If it takes a lot longer for you to eat this way than usual, chances are you were inhaling your food in the first place.
7. Pay attention to taste, texture and energetic effects.
To get the most out of you food, pay attention to it. Focus on fully enjoying the taste of each bite. Can you taste each ingredient? Notice how the texture of the food feels in your mouth. During and after your meal, do you feel heavy or light? Tired or energized? The more conscious you are while eating, and aware of the energetics of food, the better the experience for your body and brain.
8. Give yourself a little down time after eating.
Instead of rushing off to the next event of the day directly after a meal, stop, breathe, and relax for a bit. Take a moment to sit with yourself and give thanks for the delicious and nutritious meal you just fed yourself. When you give yourself time to relax and process your food, you are telling your subconscious mind that it’s okay to do the same in other areas of your life as well.
Our relationship with food and how we eat says a lot about how we engage with life in general. So why not slow down, make healthy choices, practice being present, and allow the nourishment & gratitude to fill our lives. It’s the best kind of “full” we can be.