Healthier living, one day at a time!

Slow Down You Move Too Fast...

I am a total believer in trying to slow down and enjoy the food I am eating.  Having said that, I am the first to admit that this isn’t always an easy thing to do. I am not always successful, but  luckily, I also believe that even just trying  is one step closer to success!

So why do you want to eat more slowly?!

By eating more slowly and consciously, we give our brains time to register that we are full.  Without this feedback, we are liable to eat more than our bodies really need.  How many times have you eaten, only to feel “overly full” shortly afterwards?  You wonder , “Why did I eat so much?  I felt hungry at the time!“

There is good news!  It’s not just a question of lack of will-power. There is a scientific reason for this!  There is a very specific hormone leptin that is responsible for signally to the brain that you are full.  If leptin is absent, feeding is uncontrolled and relentless.  When we slow down, we give our bodies time to secrete this protein that is produced by our fat cells and is received by receptors in the hypothalamus.

By being mindful of each bite we are giving time for leptin to do its job! 

So, next time you are ready to eat, take a moment to prepare your mind and body.  You can do this many different ways.  Here are a few simple things you can do:
  • Sit down to eat.  You have probably heard this before, but now you know why it is important!  If you are sitting, you are less likely to be “eating on the run.”  You are signaling to your body that you are committing wholeheartedly to this activity.
  • Take two or three deep breathes after sitting down.  Inhale through your nose for best results.  This will start the slow-down process giving your body and mind time to transition to the meal.
           Here is another scientific reason this works! Shallow breathing actually tells our body that we are   in a stressed state.  In this state, our body will direct all its resources towards escaping what it perceives as the enemy or the thing that is stressing us.  That means it is not going to divert precious resources to digesting food.
 
           By forcing ourselves to breathe deeply, we force our bodies into a calm state. This activates our parasympathetic nervous system that tells our digestive system that we are ready to “rest and digest.”  Blood will now be diverted to the digestive tract where it can process and transport nutrients to the rest of the body where they are needed.
           Imagine that!  All that change just from a few deep breathes.  Who knew?!
  • Say a few words of thanks.Some might call this a prayer.  Just a short few words of gratitude to settle the brain and to fully appreciate what you are doing.
  • Remove distractions- anything that takes your mind from the task at hand:  eating!  Talking on the phone, watching TV, reading, any other form of multitasking.  For me this is reading the newspaper, especially doing the crossword puzzle.  It is difficult to only do one thing, but I try and that is one step closer to success, right?
  • Chew!  Make sure that you are chewing your food thoroughly.  Some people count the number of times they chew before swallowing.  Many recommend chewing at least 30 times before swallowing.  I have tried this and it is amazing how much less you eat!  Sometimes I stop eating because it just takes too long, but the reality is, I feel full!  Try it!  It is a simple experiment to do.
            And yes, there is another scientific reason why this improves digestion.  (I love knowing there is science to back up what I do, don’t you?)  By chewing your food more thoroughly, you allow saliva to do its work.  It starts the process of breaking down the fats and starches in the mouth which helps the stomach do its job more efficiently.  It also helps to relax the muscles of the stomach, allowing food to pass more smoothly on its journey through the digestive tract.

  • Give yourself time between bites.  Putting your fork and knife down between bites will remind you to chew.  Pause a second before picking them up again.  This will get you into the habit of slowing down.
  • Take time to look at and smell your food.  Did you appreciate the aroma and texture?  Do you have food with lots of colors to excite your sense of sight?  Take time to taste all of the ingredients, especially the spices!

I hope you found these tips helpful.  Please share any comments or personal experiences you may have had with mindful eating.  I would love to hear from you and we all benefit from sharing! 

Yours in health,

Evey

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