“Work before eating, rest after eating. Eat not ravenously, filling the mouth gulp after gulp without breathing space.” - Maimonides (1135-1204)
What a delight to have made it through a hot summer and now enjoy "good sleeping weather" once again! Of course, this time of year is the precursor to another season, "The Holidays." Now is the time to prepare for what is coming. One area I think we may need a little help in is how we are eating, not what we are eating (we'll save that for a later date). I have been observing myself along with others at the table. Folks, we eat fast. I'm pretty sure this is an American thing, though most people, no matter where you live, will rush through a meal from time to time. And it doesn't appear to be a contemporary issue. Maimonides from the 12 Century addressed the same thing in the quote above!
Do you ever just stop to enjoy the food that's in front of you? Do you even look at it? Are you really tasting it? Apart from the aesthetics, there is the issue of what our snarfing of food is doing to our bodies. If you suffer from any amount of heartburn/indigestion (60 million Americans will experience heartburn once/month) or really any digestive issue, how fast you're eating may have something to do with it.
What else could be an issue? Your stress level, how well you're sleeping, your posture while eating, distracted eating (TV and tablets) and even who you are eating with (friend or foe)! Keep reading for some tips on slowing down. I don't expect you to do this entire exercise for every single bite, but I do suggest you run through it a couple of times and see what's missing in your eating. Are you thoughtful about how your food looks, how it smells and how it tastes? Are you chewing well, savoring, and swallowing with intention? Improving any one of these areas may help you be a more thoughtful eater, make your mealtimes more enjoyable, and improve your digestion.
Look at your food and imagine you’ve never seen it before. Look at it carefully. Notice the color, imagine what it might taste like.
Bring the food up to your nose. Try not to think about what it is, just experience the smell, Now describe what you smell.
Do you notice what's happening in your mouth? Saliva is being produced, even though you haven’t even put the food in your mouth yet. Your mind, connected to your body, is causing you to react.
Put a forkful/spoonful of food in your mouth. Notice how your tongue starts to move right away. Now notice how the food feels on your tongue. Isn't it amazing that this small, but strong muscle, knows just what to do with every bite?
Now that the food is in your mouth, start biting into it very slowly. Then begin to chew. What's happening? Are you starting to identify the types of sensations in your mouth? Crunchy? Chewy? Sweet? Sour? Describe what you are experiencing. This next step is critical, and where I think we really fall short. Put all of your attention into chewing. Is the taste changing? Certainly, the consistency is! Try to keep it in your mouth a bit longer than your desire to swallow. Chewing 30 times really IS recommended. Swallow the food. Follow it down into the stomach. Notice the satisfaction of receiving the food.
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