We live in a rushed society, a society that wants everything fast and now. Thus there is the financial growth and success of fast food chains. However, the question that we really need to ask ourselves is, "Is faster really better?"
While there are an overwhelming amount of resources that detail "what is considered a healthy diet," or "how to make healthy choices when eating out," and finally "organic vs. non-organic foods," what is often overlooked is the actual act of eating and how that alone affects our bodies. We know that we are what we eat, but do we consider that we are how we eat as well?
Consider the typical American breakfast. How many families, or individuals for that matter actually sit down and take time to quietly eat their breakfast before they go to work? Most people grab their breakfast to go or stop off at some fast food joint and eat on the way to work in morning traffic while talking on their cell phone. Worse, some people don’t eat breakfast at all! Let’s look at lunch. Many people either go to through a drive through and take their lunch back to work where they scoff down their food while continuing whatever project they were doing before they left. Again, some just skip lunch altogether.
Finally, we come to dinner. If you are an atypical family you may sit down around a table and eat a well-balanced meal. However, these days many families may cook a formal dinner but have dinner in front of the television (single people and couples are more prone to this habit). If none of these atrocious habits describe you then you are certainly an exception to the rule. But with these habits, it’s no wonder we have a society filled with digestive issues such as acid reflux, constipation, general fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption and nutritional deficiency where there shouldn’t be. Not only is the food we are choosing declining in quality, but also so are our habits.
How we eat affects our wellness just as much as what we eat. When we sit down at a table and give special time to our meals without interruption we send the signal to our bodies to relax and prepare for the process of receiving and healthy digestion. When we slow the consumption of our food by taking deep breaths between bites we increase the oxygen to our intestinal system supporting proper motility, release of enzymes and digestive function. When we chew our food thoroughly we properly prepare the food to be received and further broken down by our stomach so that the small intestine can better absorb the nutrients into our body. When the food is properly broken down by all of the above-mentioned processes, elimination of the waste by the colon is more regular and less difficult. In addition, when we slow down our eating and give special attention to our meals we actually enjoy our food more.
Mealtimes can be a time of fellowship with family and loved ones, or even just quiet relaxation time. How can we make each meal count? Try the following exercises:
- Commit to having at least 2 sit down meals a day, even if it is only 5-10 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal or piece of toast.
- Eat one meal in complete silence. Notice how this feels in your body.
- Put relaxing music on during a meal. Allow yourself to enjoy the relaxing sounds and integrate that into enjoying the taste of your food.
- Chew each bite at least 32 times. Count it. It’s a form of eating meditation.
- Cook at least one meal a day. Purchase a cookbook or join a free Internet recipe site. If you can read, you can cook. And don’t use time as an excuse! There are many healthy and tasty meals that can be made in less than 30 min.
- Give yourself permission to take a "non-working lunch break" Go somewhere peaceful and eat your lunch in silence. Or enjoy a nice lunch with a colleague. Notice how the second half of your day goes.
There are many other exercises to make your eating more enjoyable and healthy, but these few should get you on your way to better digestion and a more eating experience.
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