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Eating Well


How to get the best from what you eat

08 Mar 2020

The abundance of food porn proliferated by social media is a symptom of the modern world and its insatiable appetite for distraction.

It’s not the eating of food that we seem to be after, but the novelty and entertainment of glamourized images and videos.

Mindfulness is a way to picture the awareness of our own thoughts, and understanding how they can sometimes run away from us, seemingly taking on a life of their own by continually feeding on our attention.

By losing sight of the present, and focusing on concerns of the past or the future, we become removed from really living in the moment, being in reality – and taking in the full experience from our breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.

Mindfulness as a practice amongst people has seen significant growth thanks to its benefits, and over recent years has come to include concepts like “mindful eating”. So how exactly can we eat ‘mindfully’, when eating is such a physical activity, and not really regarded as a mental one?

Our digestive process even works without consciously needing to tell our bodies what to do with the food we eat. (When was the last time you arranged with your pancreas to release more insulin? Or reminded your liver to mop up excess blood sugar by storing it as glycogen?) The cellular intelligence of our bodies far exceeds any mental need to be mindful of the processes that are automatic.

What has historically been a simple act of feeding, is now wrapped up in layers of rules and instructions, like plastic packaging. It’s enough to cause anxiety and indigestion.

So what exactly are we talking about? Well, we’ve boiled down 6 simple ways to stay mindful of what you eat, and how it can help your life:

1. Eat

Make eating the occasion. Set aside time for it, and eat for nourishment rather than convenience. Don’t multitask at the dining table or office desk, but focus on the food.

2. Sit down

Your stomach receives food in a more relaxed position when you’re off your feet. It goes down more easily.

3. Set aside the gadgets

Don’t Instagram your meal. Social media feeds are designed to excite compulsive and reactive behaviour. Redirect the otherwise lost time and attention to savour your food.

4. No need for speed

Eating in a rush primes your sympathetic nervous system for stressful situations, directing blood away from the digestive organs and towards the muscles tasked with fight or flight response. Result: cramps and indigestion.

5. Chew, then swallow

Digestion begins in the mouth. It secretes the starch-busting enzyme ptyalin, which will help you feel better the end of the meal without the need for anti-gastric pills.

6. Say thanks

Be thankful for the everyday miracle of our earth’s ecosystem, and the plants and animals we consume to stay alive. Have gratitude for the people who rear, harvest and cook our food, and those who serve it to us.