You may think you’re doing your body good by sipping on a green juice or eating a salad, but if you’re doing so while watching TV or behind the wheel of your car, then keep reading.
Driving, working, watching TV, or scrolling through social media, are all distractions that interfere with the ritual of eating. Mindless eating cannot only lead to overindulgence, but it also does not allow us to properly digest what we consume. This impaired digestion means you won’t absorb all of the precious nutrients your body needs. The simple solution to this is to practice mindful eating, which requires you to shift your full awareness to the meal in front of you.
- Begin with why: Before you begin eating ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” Am I hungry, thirsty, or am I simply bored? Why do I want this? How will it make me feel? Asking ourselves why allows us to tune into our bodies and avoid emotional or mindless eating.
- Unplug: Sit down and unplug. While we completely understand mealtime may seem like the perfect thirty minutes to squeeze in your TV show, catch up on instagram, or peruse pinterest…resist the urge. When we’re distracted while eating, we tend to eat mindlessly. This can lead to overeating and many times gas, bloating, and digestive issues. Take mealtime as a well-deserved break and a time to focus on nourishing yourself.
- Breathe: At this point, you’re now sitting with as few distractions as possible and it’s time to begin focusing on your breath. Take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm (belly breathing). Inhale as your stomach extends and count to ten, and then exhale slowly for a count of ten. Do this at least three times. This allows you to release any tension or stress you may have had and connect with your body. This breathing exercise relaxes the body and enhances the blood flow to your digestive organs.
- Use your senses: Before you dig in, use all of your senses to observe the dish. This allows you to slow down and become aware of what you are about to eat. It also tells your body to prepare for eating. Smelling and looking at your food sends signals to your body to create the enzymes needed for digestion.
- Chew well: Digestion begins in the mouth with salivary amylase and salivary liapse. Salivary amylase begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, while salivary lipase begins the breakdown of fats. With that said, thorough chewing and exposure to the lipase and amylase will enhance digestion. The rule of thumb is chew each bite until the food becomes liquefied, which could be 20-50 chews depending upon what you are eating. Chewing well has many benefits. It enhances digestion, promotes optimal absorption of nutrients, and it forces you to slow down so you will feel when you are full.