Eating slowly, calmly, and in a calm environment is crucial for digestion, health and weight loss. When we eat too quickly or under stress, we cannot properly digest our food and assimilate its nutrients. When we eat too fast, we don’t even get a chance to taste our food and we miss out on a process called, the cephalic phase of digestive response. This is really just a fancy term for preparing the body for digestion by seeing the food, smelling the food, wanting and appreciating the food before it’s eaten. This process is the beginning of digestion and if missed, we can’t digest our food properly. If we are busy and distracted while we’re eating we miss out on this phase of digestion. If we eat a meal without even really realizing we’ve eaten, the head still signals ‘hungry’ even though our bellies are full, and we will go looking for more to eat. Another reason why it’s good to slow down while we’re eating is that eating quickly and under stress, sends the message to the brain that we’re not safe and activates the sympathetic nervous system. We can’t digest in this state.
So what to do? Slow down. Eat consciously. Prioritize meal times. If you can, take the time to set the table. Light some candles. Plate your food attractively. Play relaxing music. Take the time to look at and appreciate and smell your foods before you eat it. Before you start to eat, take five to ten, long, slow, deep breaths. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and prepares the body for digestion. When you eat your food, try to be present to it. Taste each bite in your mouth. Feel its texture. Eating can actually become a mindfulness practice. In short, enjoy your food!
Don’t have time to cook? Get in the habit of cooking slow by using a slow cooker to cook your meals while you’re at work. Join the slow food movement and slow down your meal times.