Why is Eating Mindfully Important?
We are constantly running and rushing from place to place. When we eat while feeling rushed or stressed our sympathetic nervous system is activated. The sympathetic nervous system’s primary process is to stimulate the body’s “fight or flight” response. Think: Hundreds of years ago when we needed to flee from predatory animals in order to survive. It’s a basic instinct. The thing is we are now constantly operating in this stressful, rushed manner. The result on our body is slowed digestion, accelerated heart rate and inhibited intestinal motility to name just a few. Now, that does not sound like an ideal situation for processing your food, does it?
What we want to do is switch gears into activating our parasympathetic nervous system. This is when the body is in “rest and digest” mode. Now, your digestion is functioning as it should to break down the food you are consuming, your heart rate is no longer increased and your digestive juices are being secreted. Now, doesn’t this sound like a more conducive setting for your body to operate in while eating?!
So, the question is how do we switch over? The answer is surprisingly easy. Eat consciously. A way to do that is to practice a settling in ritual before each meal. This is so simple, that it’s easy to lose track of on a daily basis. This week we are going to challenge you to use this ritual before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A good way to implement this it to start with one meal and then work your way up to two meals and then all three by the end of the week. It sounds a little crazy, but then again, so does trying to digest your food while in fight or flight mode! Give it a try and you will be amazed at how much more satiating your meal will be, which leads to feeling fuller, longer, which leads to less snacking which leads to a healthier, more mindful you.
A Ritual for Settling In
A Simple Set up for Conscious Eating:
Before you begin to eat, have everything set up so that you don’t have to get up for something right away.
- Sit down to eat your food.
- Feel yourself grounded to the earth. Notice you “sit bones.” Feel the soles of your feet.
- Take a deep breath and feel all the excess energy leave you as you exhale. Repeat 3 times.
- Straighten your spine and feel it gently settle over your sit bones, in a relaxed manner, maintain upright posture.
- Take a few more deep breaths. As you relax with each breath, relax the front of your body – your chest, your stomach area, your abdomen.
- Take a moment to notice where your energy is and how it feels.
- Gently open your eyes to enjoy the meal before you.
- As you take your first bite, savor the flavors, color, and textures of your meal.
Let me know how it goes!