Yup, you read that right. A blog about how to do something that is natural, normal and the base of our existence – eating. Let me explain…
I like to run. One day, on my quest to improve my running techniques, I was browsing some websites to get some insights from experienced runners and athletes. I was fortunate to run into an article (pun intended..) that was talking about the very basics of running. The article was quite interesting, but the very beginning of this article was where I had to pause a bit as I was having an Aha moment. It was talking about how we need to begin with learning how to walk properly before we learn how to run properly. It elaborated on posture, stride length, hip position, relaxed shoulders, movement of the arms etc., components that are important in running as well. It continued into saying that if you walk properly, it will most likely translate into running properly. What does that have to do with eating techniques? If you invest the time to look into your basic proper eating habits and the use of good methods, it could create the grounds for better digestion, portion control and nutrients absorption.
Life can get hectic, a fact I am well aware of and experience daily. Like most moms to young children, I always felt rushed and couldn’t focus on my eating process as I had to pay attention to my kids, what they were doing or what they wanted. I learned to eat quickly, finding myself multitasking during a meal and already thinking about the next thing on our to-do list. While I’m extremely grateful for having my kids, I am well aware that motherhood sometimes doesn’t leave much time to focus on your own wills and wants. Now that the kids are older, and we, moms, can potentially pay more attention to our habits, maybe it’s a good opportunity to look into how we eat and see if there is a need for some improvement.
Here are some tips to help improve our basic eating methods. While realizing these are ideal and can be challenging to keep up with, we could hopefully strive to achieve some of these, practice them often and even turn them into habits.
The ideal environment would be a relaxed one, when possible. Sitting down to eat your meal can help your whole body focus on the process of digestion. Allocating enough time to enjoy the meal can contribute to a relaxed environment.
In addition, feeling stressed may impact the digestion process therefore, taking a few deep breaths and trying to focus on positive thoughts can help calm down before starting a meal.
Eating while doing other things may impact our digestion and healthy eating in more ways than we think. While reading a book, watching TV or scrolling social media on your phone are fun things to do, they should be separated from having a meal as much as possible. Not focusing on what we are eating may result in eating more than we need, affect digestion and take away the attention we should put on feeling full.
Other than providing our stomach with smaller food particles to digest and allowing enzymes to break down the food in our mouth, chewing thoroughly makes our meal extend over a bit longer period of time which may result in eating less. The brain releases hormones related to satiety 15-20 minutes after we begin eating. Therefore, if we eat fast, we may end up eating more than we need. Taking our time to chew our foods longer is definitely something we can benefit from.
Having family and friends around the table is a blessing. Being able to share your food, or feed your loved ones is truly wonderful. Chatting with the people you care about, learning about their day or catching up is a very important part of our well being. During that time, when possible, try to dedicate a few seconds to focus on the food you are eating, the chewing process, taste & flavours spreading in your mouth, the aromas etc. As you are chewing your food, try to dedicate a few seconds to be mindful of the food you are eating. Eating mindfully takes time and practice but is a truly rewarding act.
Having enough light to see the foods in front of you may start a healthy digestion process. Looking at the food, the colours, textures and layout is recommended. Take a few seconds to observe the food, smell it and appreciate it. This may help get the digestive juices going and allow our brain-gut connection to do its magic.
Having the ability to sit down for a meal is, sadly, not a given for everyone. Being grateful for having access to food, the ability to afford a meal and being able to eat it is good to acknowledge often. The famous Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman has shown in his research that being appreciative and thankful has a positive effect on our happiness which can have an effect on our health.