A MINDFUL MEAL
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, you may be guilty of trying to do more than one thing at a time, especially while eating. Caught up in your mind and out of touch with your body, you may find yourself inhaling your meals on the go, behind the wheel, in front of the computer or TV, with a phone in hand. Stopping to savor your food may be a rare luxury.
All this rushing around and multi-tasking can be perceived as another stressor by the body, which triggers the internal “fight or flight” response, eliciting the production of stress hormones that suppress gut function. This can perpetuate digestive stress and symptoms, along with weight gain, not to mention detracting from the pleasure of eating.
Instead, allow yourself to take time out to sit down and eat your food
– turning off distractions, like the TV, computer and phone. Give your full attention to the present moment when eating, focusing on what and how you’re eating. This conscious consumption encourages digestion and increases not only nutrient absorption but also the enjoyment you can elicit from your food.
To make your next meal a mindful one, try the following:
1. Before eating, ask yourself some questions: are you hungry, or looking to eat for another reason? reason? Is what you’re intending to eat going to serve your health and wellbeing? wellbeing? Are you able to give your full attention to eating right now? now? The answers to these questions may change your eating habits for the better.
2. Sit at a table to eat and put away or switch off any distractions.
3. Bring your awareness to your senses—what does your meal look and smell like? like? Your senses can kick-start the digestive process before you’ve even taken a bite by encouraging the production of saliva and gastric juices.
4. Take a moment to be grateful for the nourishing meal you’re about to eat. You might simply pause to consider your good fortune to have food in front of you.
5. Eat slowly, chewing each mouthful really well before swallowing. Pause and put your cutlery or food down between bites, and really focus on the tastes and textures you’re experiencing.
6. Check in with your breathing and make sure you’re not holding your breath but drawing it down into your belly to relax your body and promote the passage of food.
7. Ideally, beverages should be consumed away from meals –
15-30 minutes either side If you are drinking during your meal, sip rather than gulp your drink.
8. Eat only until you feel satiated, not stuffed. Bear in mind that it takes time—up to 20 minutes—for the gut to communicate with the brain when you’re full. Pausing prevents overeating and digestive discomfort.