How often do you find yourself eating on the move or in front of a computer or TV screen? It is tempting to try and eat by “fitting it in” with other activities. However, not only does this make us miss out on all the sheer pleasure of the food with are eating, but it also can negatively impact our digestion.
So here is my invitation to you. Take the time, energy and presence to make your next meal a mindful meal. Your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it. Here are 4 tips on how to bring yourself into a deeper, more fulfilling and rewarding experience at meal time.
- 3 Conscious Breaths
By bringing your awareness to your breath you can shift into a more relaxed state that actually turns on your digestive and metabolic fires. When we are stressed, even with just the small stuff we don’t always acknowledge, this mechanism gets shut off.
Place a hand on your belly and inhale slowly through your nose, softly yet deeply into your belly. Exhale through your mouth fully, relaxing as you do so. Repeat 3 times. If you have a hard time getting your belly to move when you breath, or would like to learn more techniques to help relax check out this video.
- Give Thanks
Offer gratitude to all of the living beings that had a part in getting this food to your body to bring you nourishment. This includes both the food itself (which was all living once) and the no doubt numerous people that were involved in the growing, transport and preparation of the food.
Sometimes I like to take the first bite (or I forget until then) and while it is in my mouth I offer my thanks. A gratitude practice at meal time is a wonderful place from which start and then expand into other areas of your life.
- Be Present
Become fully present to the meal you are about to eat. How it looks (colors, presentation, smells, even sounds!). Breathe it in, notice the texture in your mouth, and finally savor the taste of each bite. Not only will you find pleasure in the giving of your attention more fully to your meal, it will also be more satisfying, reducing your tendency to overeat. When you are present, and relaxed, it switches on your rest and digest side of your nervous system, which can increase your metabolism and help balance your hormones.
Savor your food all the time, and especially savor it if you consider what you are eating an indulgence (like a desert or special meal). On those special occasions when you do choose to indulge, leave the critic behind and really savor each bite.
Digestion begins in the mouth. Many of us already have a taxed digestive system, and when we fail to chew each bite 20-30 times, we are putting even more stress into our system. Anyone needing more stress? I didn’t think so.
I like to tell my clients to drink your meals and chew your liquids. In other words chew your food until it becomes liquid in your mouth. With smoothies, juices, broths, chew or at least swirl them around in your mouth a few times before chugging them down. I promise you will feel more satisfied and your body will thank you.