And it matters just as much as what we eat!
Have you ever found yourself going on auto-pilot, stuffing your face with delicious food you prepared staring at the screen of your phone or Netflix? Next thing you know, your plate is empty but it feels like your stomach is too? Or have you ever inhaled food so quickly, possibly on-the-go, it gave you stomach ache? Anyway, we all have been there!
When I realized I had a disordered eating behavior, I had to re-evaluate a lot fo my habits around food. And some of the realizations were hard to swallow (pun intended), but with awareness comes freedom to take responsibility and choose better.
I ate too fast, often inhaling my food. Chewing food thoroughly (32 times is recommended) allows our body to extract nutrients in our food and digest it better. Not chewing my food enough led to indigestion, and lack of protein digestion, absorption and metabolism. And gut health is important!
I often ate with my device on, watching a movie or scrolling through instagram, never being present with my plate (never being present with my self). My mind never fully realized that I was eating and my stomach often caught up too late, so I always ended up overeating. A cycle that also was perpetuated by my constant fear of food, restrictions and distorted eating behavior. That's a topic for another time!
Unfortunately, most people operate in a perpetual stare of survival, and when we sit down to have our meals, we bring that stress to the table with us. Regulating our nervous system before eating helps us not only to digest our food better (1 ) , but also relaxes us enough to enjoy the food without overeating. Simple breathing techniques stimulate vagus nerve and move the body into ease and relaxing state. You can try inhaling on the count of 5, holding on 5, and exhaling on 5, or inhaling deeply, holding on the count of 5, and then exhaling slowly. Only 5 repetition of either will do the trick.
The more I healed and created a new relationship with myself, the more I cultivated a better connection with the world around me, including food.
Food is a life force energy. Plants and animals are all living things that were sacrificed for us to enjoy and sustain our life force. One way to honor that is to give thanks. As Dr Joe Dispenza says, "Gratitude is an ultimate state of receivership". Whether it's saying grace, or a simple intentional “thank you” from the heart, consciously expressing gratitude for what’s on our plate creates a meaningful connection between us and the food. Eating becomes a more mindful act, which leads to less overeating, better digestion, and more enjoyment. Expressing reverence for people who made the meal possible, from cooks to farmers, drivers, and the land it was grown on, we bring ourselves to fully receive it, even our physiology shifts into a more receptive mode for enjoying the meal: salivation increases, hormones released, breathing patterns change. Blessing our meal changes the quality and benefit of food by changing its molecular structure (check out studies by Vogel, Emoto, Stossel, Adams on intracellular fluid).
These days I aim to enjoy my meals fully present, savoring every bite and feeling it land in my stomach, mindfully connecting with the food and myself as I am eating. Sometimes I turn on nice relaxing music, and even set the table with my most precious dinnerware, and light the candles, creating an ambience of finest restaurants. Eating becomes a beautiful ritual, and we all need more of that in our lives.
How we do anything is how we do everything. How we eat is no different. It's up to us to create more magic even in the most ordinary acts. We can choose to be mindful or mindless, intentional or random. We can choose to bring more heart into our lives, and to live every minute of the day mindfully, to treat each meal like a sacred communion, and to treat ourselves with full presence!