Guess what? Your body cannot do several things at a time. When we manage to do lots of things at once, well we sure do them, but our bodies get overloaded too much information and don’t deal with any of them. Too bad, uh? That’s the same when it comes to eating. Eating needs to be a ritual, a sanctuary-time, a peaceful moment when we give our bodies the rest they need to digest food properly. Remember: food is the starting point of everything – us being well or unwell, looking amazing or not so good, getting an illness every two weeks or being resistant to anything,… – so why not have a try at my 3 simple steps to get yourself into mindful eating?
1)Planning your meal times: try to make time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And by “time”, I mean “enough time”. More precisely, I’d say an hour would be ideal. 10 minutes are not enough to chew food properly, swallow it, give time to your stomach to partially digest it and pass it to the duodenum – the first part of the small intestines, where most digestion occurs, and where receptors detect food is there, therefore sending an input to your brain basically saying: “not hungry anymore, stop eating!”. Eating is indeed more than just chewing and swallowing, there’s a lot going on after the oesophagus, involving lots of organs, enzymes, bowel movements and bacteria action. You need to give your digestive system some time before rushing to whatever you need to do before gulping your lunch down in 7 minutes. Also, this “eating time” should be computer & cell phone-free in order for you to be present in the moment. Once again, your body can’t do two things at the same time. I’ll go into details about that in the next few lines.
2)Just before eating: take a moment to stop anything you’ve been doing: work, answering tones of emails, worrying about this or that, planning endless meetings… Just let it go, don’t worry you’ll get back to it as soon as your eating time will be over. The medical explanation behind this piece of advice is that we have two autonomic nervous system divisions controlling involuntary movements in our bodies: the sympathetic nervous system (the one which arouses your body when it’s coping with stress or any kind of threat), and the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that enables your body to rest and digest, to store energy, to make your reproductive system work properly, etc.). Both cannot be on at the same time. Therefore, if you’re focusing on emails or reading papers while eating, your parasympathetic system is on, preventing your body to actually digest the food you’re putting into it. The moment you’ll take to stop everything and try to be calm and at piece before eating will enable your sympathetic nervous system to switch off and your parasympathetic nervous system to switch on for proper digestion.
3)During the meal: masticating is key! Sure we need food to nourish our bodies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be enjoyed! Chewing anything just twice won’t let you time to enjoy the taste of it. Moreover, you won’t let time either to sensory receptors in your mouth and tongue to send inputs to your brain about what kind of food you’re eating and therefore what kind of response to generate in the gut. Worse: you will give more work to your stomach, as everything not fully chewed up in the mouth will have to be broken down in the next organ, thus making digestion less easy on you. Finally, this will make you slower-eaters, therefore preventing yourself from the “bulimia effect”, i.e. stuffing our faces with way too much food that we don’t actually need.
Try to put this into practice and see how you deal with it. Hope it will be helpful!