"When walking, walk. When eating, eat." ~ Rashaski · Zen Proverb
What is mindful eating and what does it mean to our health? On a basic level, mindful eating refers to preparing the body for food so that the food can be effectively digested, absorbed and utilized effectively for our nourishment. Of course, we need to start by selecting high quality, whole foods and prepare them properly.
Then, as we prepare to eat, we want to give our bodies ample opportunity to turn on the digestive functions. This starts in the brain as we see and smell food. The brain responds to this input by stimulating the production of saliva and salivary amylase in our mouths. Saliva serves to moisten our food and amylase begins the digestion of carbohydrates. The production of hydrochloric acid by cells in the stomach are also stimulated to prepare for digestion in the stomach.
Without this adequate preparation, our food is not properly digested, resulting in many problems “further south” in the digestive system.
So, how do we prepare for eating?
Be in a relaxed state – digestion can only function efficiently in a parasympathetic or relaxed state. The best ways to do this is to:
Turn off all the machines (except maybe for some relaxing music).
Set the table and eat at the table .
Take time to breathe deeply and give thanks for the food that is about to nourish our bodies 4. Eat slowly and thoroughly chew each bite (20-30 times), putting down your utensil between bites.
Listen to your body and stop eating when you begin to feel satiated.
You will find that you enjoy your food more and your body will thank you.