In my previous post I talked about the importance of digestion. Our digestion affects every other system in our bodies, and really is the foundation of wellness. Today I am going to talk about one way that you can improve your digestion without needing to spend a lot of money on supplements or other treatments. Does that sound good?
We spend a lot of time talking about what to eat, but did you know that HOW you eat can also have a big impact on your digestion? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, poor digestion is related to an over-active mind. When our mind is churning due to over-thinking and worry, our gut also churns away. Just as our mind is stuck, unable to process thoughts and ideas, our gut gets stuck and unable to process food.
Are you guilty of eating on the go? Do you sit at your computer for lunch so that you can keep working while you eat? Do you see meals as something that need to be rushed through so that you can spend time on more important things? I know I have been guilty of all of these things and more, but taking time out of our busy schedules to actually sit down and enjoy our meals is so important. When you pay attention to how you eat, you will also pay attention to what you are eating, how much you are eating, and how the food makes you feel. You will know when you are full, which means you will be less likely to overeat. You will know which foods make you feel energised and healthy, and which foods make you feel tired and sluggish, which means you will naturally choose healthier options over time.
So here is my 5 Step Method to Mindful Eating:
- Be thankful
- Be silent
Step 1: Prepare
The first step is to prepare for each meal. I don’t necessarily mean that you have to cook everything for yourself. I am talking about the actual time spent eating. Approach meals as a sort of ceremony. Sit down at a proper table to eat. Make sure the television is off and there are no other distractions around. Set your table properly. If you like, you could light a candle, or make sure you have a nice table setting with a placemat and napkins. Whatever works for you that will instil the message in your brain that you are about to engage in something important. You are about to nourish your body, giving it the nutrients it needs to allow you to live your life the way you want to.
This is important. This matters.
Step 2: Be thankful
Now that you have prepared a nice setting in which to eat, give thanks for the food. If you do not believe in God, you don’t have to pray, but be thankful for where the food has come from. If you are eating meat, be thankful for the life that was given for your meal. If you are eating vegetables, be thankful for the time and effort that has been put into growing them. Be thankful for the sun that nurtured life, for the soil that gave nutrients. I know this may sound a little silly for some of you, but being thankful for your food will give you a good attitude towards it. Food isn’t something you need to wage a battle against. It isn’t something that needs to be conquered. It is there to nourish you and give you life. Honour that.
Step 3: Be silent
Be silent through your meal. I know many people see meals as a time to socialise and bond, but talking will keep your mind busy and distracted. Silence during your meal will help you to be mindful as you eat, and will give your mind a chance to rest. This will in turn allow your body’s energy t focus on digestion instead of talking and thinking. I am not saying that you should never socialise over a meal, but for the purposes of this Mindful Eating Method, silence is important.
Step 4: Chew
Many of us don’t chew our food enough. We gulp it down and try to finish our meals as fast as possible. Chewing is one of the first steps in the digestive process. It signals the stomach to get ready for food. If we don’t chew enough, the food will arrive in our stomach before we are ready to process it. So take the time to chew thoroughly. Swallow each mouthful before taking the next bite. This is harder than it sounds.
Step 5: Schedule
Finally, try to eat at regular times. Physically this is good because your body will have an established rhythm to follow. Mentally, this is also beneficial in helping you to prepare yourself for each meal. When you are used to eating at set times every day, the first step of this Method for Mindful Eating will be much easier.
That’s it. It’s not really difficult to incorporate mindfulness into eating, but if you’re used to eating on the go and rushing through your meals, you may find it quite difficult to make yourself sit down and really enjoy your food. The question is, is your health worth it? Digestion plays such a huge role in our overall wellness, and these simple steps could make a big difference in your health. The harder you find it to do this, the more you are likely to need it. Although it would be great it you incorporated this method of eating into every meal, I know this may not be practical. You can start by doing it for one meal a day, like lunch. So why don’t you try eating like this for a week, and let me know how you go? Share your thoughts and experiences below.