Angela: Sometimes I find myself eating my lunch at my desk or eating breakfast while doing school drop off. Of course I have the time to sit down and eat my lunch outside in the sunshine and be present. We should give our brain the time to smell our food and salivate over the yummy food in front of us. It does help digestion, our brain talks to our stomach and it starts to produce enzymes to help us break-down our food. When I was studying I would find myself reaching for chocolate everytime I was stressed worrying about an assignment deadline. We need to ask ourselves ‘are we really hungry’. Take the time to enjoy food and ask yourself is it the right thing to eat right now to nourish me. Over to Michael to talk more on the topic…
Michael: There is a school of thought that believes that ‘all illness starts in the gut’, and that through healing this area of the body, one can bring oneself back to good health, and wellness.
Today, there is a growing trend in Western, as well as Eastern medicine, that recognises the importance of having good ‘gut health’, and there are a number of different medicinal ways that this can be achieved. But it is recognised that no amount of medicinal practice, whether mainstream or alternative, will be 100% effective without looking at the cause of the illness, which is often a symptom of much deeper issues.
Often by paying attention to the practice of eating, and how the person engages with food, one can heal the underlying causes of gut illness and restore the person to long lasting health and wellness. A mindfulness eating practice is a great way of getting in touch with how you are engaging with food and provides valuable insights into ways of improving your relationship with your gut. Below are examples of mindfulness eating practices to improve digestion…
During the process of eating you could begin by asking yourself a few questions about your eating habits such as “Why am I eating right now?” Recognising whether you are actually hungry, or simply craving something else can be helpful in identifying where the need to eat has arisen, and whether you are overeating as a means of distracting from being present with some deeper desire. Another great question to ask is “What am I eating now?” Often when we are not present with our eating we may find ourselves consuming foods that are not congruent with the lifestyle that we want for ourselves.
Another practice that assists with mindful eating is having gratitude for the food that we are about to eat. This means taking a moment to have gratitude for each of the ingredients – for the people who grew them, picked them and prepared them, as well as for the journey that the food took to get to your plate. You could also give thanks for the good health that your body will enjoy for the tasty nutritious food after you have consumed it.
A really important part of mindful eating is in the act of consuming the food because an important part of gut health is to allow the stomach time to prepare for the food. This means smelling the food to prepare the taste buds, which in turn alerts the stomach, which starts to prepare the enzymes needed to break the food down when it reaches the stomach. Chewing carefully, at least 30 times for each mouthful will assist in helping the food to break down and assist the gut in the process of digestion.
Being ‘In the Moment’ During Mealtimes
Being completely present, and in the moment during mealtimes involves allowing your meal time to be a time when your complete focus is on the practice of eating. This means that you do not watch television, read a book, or walk around while eating your food. It involves focusing thoughts on the task at hand and allowing all other thoughts to drift away.
This article is brought to you by Michael Atma. He is a best-selling author in the meditation category on Amazon, his latest book is, “Master Your Mindspace”. He is a regular writer on his blog www.michaelatma.com.