This weekend, a unique opportunity awaits if you’ve been trying to create a habit of rising earlier. It’s time to “Fall Back” when Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday November 5 at 2am ET.Read More
Autumn officially arrives Friday September 22 at 10:02am ET/1:02pm PT, and darkness begins to dominate in the Northern Hemisphere. Acknowledging this shift, and choosing practices which align with nature's rhythms supports our overall health and well being.Read More
Number 3: Just like WHEN and HOW you eat, WHERE you eat affects digestion, and overall health and well being. Sit down while eating.
HOW you eat makes a difference, and within that, you’ll notice WHERE you eat is important. Without making time to sit down and eat, you’re liable to gobble the food wherever you are; standing, driving, or on the subway. Although I now live in San Diego, I still use my half century as a New Yorker for reference. If we’re not sitting and eating, we’re in fight or flight mode, period, and healthy digestion is impossible. Creating an optimal space WHERE you eat may require planning, but it’s a simple, (albeitnot easy), habit to improve your overall health and well being.
For most of us, eating while at the computer or TV, reading, or scrolling through social media is the norm, just like the woman pictured below. As I wrote in the HOW of eating, if we're not focused on the food, our body doesn't receive the message it's being nourished, and cannot digest, absorb and assimilate optimally. We'll often feel hungry soon after eating.
Do you give yourself permission to take the time to eat or is the rushing self imposed?
By prioritizing meals and slowing down, we feel better, which ultimately CREATES more time. But
you eat will often dictate
It's best to avoid eating in the same spot you're usually doing something else,
because we're reminded we need to get back to the task at hand. This bad habit is one I've struggled with since moving into my new apartment in La Jolla. I prefer working at the table in my main living space, because of the light. Since it's also near the kitchen, I began to eat there too, and found myself rushing. It's an ongoing process, but I now enjoy more of my meals at a table outside, which I'm lucky enough to be able to do most of the time!
Be creative and make small, simple shifts:
- Swivel your chair around so you're facing away from the desk and computer.
- Make a plan with a friend or colleague for a meal away from the office.
- Eat outside, weather permitting, or inside at a community space or cafeteria.
- Eat while seated, at a table. You'll naturally slow down and be more present to the HOW of eating.
- Avoid eating while driving. If you're pressed for time, at least stop the car.
- Give yourself the time to eat and focus on the food. Chewing and swallowing is essential to create the environment the body needs to absorb and assimilate food.
Remember, it’s NOT what we do occasionally that matters as much as what we do most of the time that affects our health and well being.
Part TWO: The HOW of Eating
Eating a meal is not something to “get over with”. Instead, choose to savor your food.
Are you a slow, fast, or moderate eater? For many of us, (myself included!) eating quickly can be one of the hardest habits to change. Food is a part of the environment OUTSIDE our body. When we take food into our body (ie, EAT) it goes through the process of digestion, absorption and assimilation, and becomes our skin, muscles, our brain and organs! Eating isn't something to get over with in order to move onto the next thing! It IS the thing.
The process of eating, digestion, absorption and assimilation is incredible. Plants, or animals that ate plants, transform to become our body, an amazingly intimate process. This understanding has helped me to consciously choose to eat “real” food, and skip “food-like” substances which ask the body to digest what doesn't exist in nature. Recently, this perspective turned on a light bulb with one of my clients, and helped him slow down the rushed eating patterns in his life.
There are two states in which we live, number one, in stress response (sympathetic dominance), and number two, in the relaxation response (parasympathetic dominance). It's not possible to exist in both states simultaneously. When driving, walking, scrolling online, or even thinking about a stressful situation, our body is not relaxed, and cannot optimally digest, absorb and assimilate the food we’re eating. We can improve HOW we eat by mindfully establishing the relaxation response when eating.
Recently, a friend and I were reviewing the proofs of her new book at an outdoor cafe. When the soup arrived, pages were spread around, so we moved the bowls to the side. For the next five minutes, without eating, we enjoyed the beautiful orange tomato soup drizzled with green basil oil and the aroma. It was a wonderful practice of savoring the food and moving into relaxation response, which prepares the body to optimally digest, absorb and assimilate a meal.
Digestion starts in the brain. Our digestive juices and enzymes begin to flow before anything ever enters our mouth, so preparing a meal ourselves actually helps with digestion. If you ever feel hungry not long after eating, it could be because your awareness wasn’t on the food, and your body literally didn't get the message that it had eaten.
If feeling extremely hungry causes you to eat quickly, first drink a glass of room temperature (not cold or iced) water. Drinking 10-15 minutes before you eat is optimal. Hunger is often disguised as thirst, and drinking water is one strategy to help you slow down.
TIPS ON EATING MINDFULLY
- Take at least three deep breaths before eating.
- Commit to sitting down and focusing on eating without any distractions.
- Look at the food and smell the aroma.
- Recognize, with gratitude, all the steps involved for the food to arrive on your plate, especially if you did not prepare it yourself.
- Set a timer. Whether for 15 minutes or up to 30, extend the period of the meal. It’s a process, and taking more time to eat will yield benefits including better digestion, which can improve your overall health and well being.
Remember, it's NOT what we do occasionally that matters as much as what we do most of the time that affects our health and well being. The Reset and Renew online program is Three Weeks of Nourishing Self Care to Learn to Live Better in Your Body.
Maybe you think you generally eat well. Perhaps you make it a priority to eat really healthy food. Wonderful! But optimal health is not only about WHAT foods you’re eating, but WHEN and HOW.Read More