When was the last time you sat down for a meal with zero distractions?
Maybe it was a long time ago before kids or maybe you've never tried it.
In reality, it is difficult to eliminate distractions when we are eating. Most of us use this time to catch up on TV shows or social media feeds or we might skip designated meal time all together and eat while we are driving or at our desk. While this may feel efficient or "necessary" we are actually doing our bodies a disservice.
When we multitask during meals we are taking attention away from the food we are eating and focusing it elsewhere.
In the long run this can leave us less satisfied after meals leading to more snacking later in the day. It can also lead to overeating because we are not listening to the body's cues telling us we are full.
Additionally, if you are like me and love watching suspenseful and dramatic TV shows, you can actually influence your body's ability to digest. When we watch TV or have arguments over meals our body releases cortisol as a response. Cortisol is our stress hormone and signals to the body that there is danger. This leads to a cascade of reactions most importantly decreased production of stomach acid (which is essential for breaking down food) and slowed peristalsis, which moves the digested food through the intestines. This can result in insufficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients but also constipation, bloating, and gas production.
Mindful eating is a practice that aims to reduce these types of distractions from food. It encourages tapping into body cues and awareness of the food on your plate. In real life it is very difficult to sit alone in silence with each of your meals. But you can begin to incorporate these few tools to improve digestion and satisfaction!
1. Take a deep breath before you begin eating.
2. Notice all of the colors and textures on the plate.
3. Notice what you can smell.
4. Take a bite and chew 30-40 times, noticing how it feels, tastes, and temperature.
5. Put your fork down between bites to slow the speed of eating and increase chewing time.
The benefits of incorporating mindful eating are not to be missed! We begin to taste more, increase energy and vitality because we are absorbing more nutrients and lastly we can work on connecting with our loved ones because there are fewer distractions.
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!