What it means to be Present and Aware when you eat
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~Zen proverb
I encourage you to bring presence and awareness to the table when it’s time to eat
Perhaps you already do this?
Please read on if you would like to explore this a bit more….
In our fast-paced crazy lives we tend to rush through everything
And eating is often considered a decadent time waster
Something that most of us have “hurried up”
It has also become ‘a task’ many people choose to multi-task
Eating while checking emails, quickly downing lunch so you can rush off in time for that next meeting….or eating while you’re caught up in the sandstorm of thoughts, feelings, places to be, things to do, etc, etc…
Instead please…Pause. Breathe.
Allow all of that fade away when it is time to eat….
And just why is it so important to be present and aware when eating?
Here are my 2 main reasons why…
1. To maximise your digestive function, nutrient absorption and calorie burning capacity you need to be fully aware of WHAT you are eating!
Did you know that digestion begins before food even enters your mouth?
Digestion starts when your brain sees, smells and starts to anticipate food.
This is called the cephalic (referring to head) phase of digestion.
Think about when you smell food cooking and your mouth instantly starts to ‘water’.
This is the body releasing saliva, ready to start the digestive process (saliva starts the breakdown of carbohydrate in food).
In the cephalic digestive phase, the brain is letting the stomach know to prepare for food by initiating a number of digestive activities. Saliva is the just beginning of this.
Stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes are released. And peristalsis – the movement which propels food along the gut – begins.
All of this is really important to optimally digest and absorb all of the nutrients in what we eat. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 30 to 40 percent of the total digestive response to any meal is due to the cephalic phase of digestion.
It follows then that lack of attention can result in reduced blood flow to the digestive organs and reduced digestive enzyme output in the gut.
Resulting in decreased nutrient digestion, assimilation and absorption (which can in turn affect immune function and energy levels) and slower calorie burning capacity.
This can also increase your chances of digestive upset and bowel disorders.
And we’re sure you don’t want any of that!
2. Not being present and fully aware during the process of eating means you by-pass one of the satiety (feeling full) processes our brain has.
And when your brain does not know what and how much you have eaten, you can easily over eat.
Here is an example of that –
Have you ever sat alone watching tv while eating a packet of chips?
You reach in for another chip and find surprisingly they are all gone! But how?
You don’t recall eating them all. Yet there is no-one else around!
This is called mindless eating, and unfortunately most of us do this, and do so several times a day!
Mindless eating enables you to eat well beyond when your body would normally let you know when you are full.
When you eat mindlessly, you WILL end up eating more than your body wants or needs, and eating more than you need can lead to weight gain
In fact, mindless eating is reported to be one of the main reasons people gain weight!