I have been reading the great monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book on mindful eating called Savor and am loving it. Learning to eat mindfully is an important step toward obtaining long-term wellness. Many of the most common health conditions we face -stress, depression, weight gain and digestive disorders – may be prevented or reversed if you become more mindful while eating.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat” ~ Zen Proverb
Mindfulness means slowing down and becoming fully aware in the present moment. This concept is not new and has been practiced for thousands of years across the globe as a means for experiencing life fully. By slowing down you are better able to listen to your bodies signals. For example how do you feel after eating a meal while driving in your car or while watching TV? Do you take the time to chew your food properly? Do you savor the taste and smell of the food? Do you notice when you are full or do you just eat the entire meal? Afterwards do feel light and energized or heavy, bloated and dull? Compare this experience to when you cook a meal at home and eat it at the dining table. In this case you are probably eating healthier food, enjoying the meal with all of your senses, allowing yourself to eat slow enough so that your body knows when its had enough and therefore not over eating.
Here are 3 powerful reasons to slow down, eat without distraction (while watching TV, while driving or at your desk), chew your food fully and savor each bite.
Weight loss. There are a number of studies that have shown eating slower leads to weight loss. One reason is that chewing your food properly is a huge part of digestion. Chewing triggers important enzymes in the body to break down complex carbohydrates and singles the stomach to prepare for digestion. Because digestion becomes more efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, you absorb nutrients better, lower stress on your system and your your body will begin to feel and look lighter. Also It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full. If we eat fast, we can continue eating past the point where we’re full. If we eat slowly, we have time to realize we’re full, and stop when we are satisfied. Bonus when you slow down, chew your food well and savor it you enjoy your food so much more!
Conquer cravings. How often are your cravings associated with a certain experience like going to the movies, watching your favorite TV show or that afternoon stop for a latte? Are you tuning into your real hunger or eating out of habit. When we grow more mindful, we become more aware of our cravings and can even learn to pay attention to the emotions, timing and experiences associated with them. The result? Better food choices.
Reduce stress. You have probably have heard that meditation reduces stress. Eating slowly, and paying attention to what you are eating is a great form of mediation. Chronic stress is associated with a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and digestive disorders. Plus, stress triggers a cascade of hormone release in the body that stimulates appetite, and can lead to cravings. Be in the moment, rather than rushing through a meal thinking about what you need to do next. This kind of mindfulness, will lead to a less stress and a more joyful experience.
So when you eat, eat. Give it a shot. Eat slower, tune into your food, breath deep and see what shifts in your experience.
Wishing you Vibrant Living,