I realised, when I wrote this blog for the Irish Executive Network, just how many things I do while eating. The simple act of engaging with our food, being present while we eat, has a massive effect on how well we breakdown and absorb all those fabulous nutrients from the food we eat. Read below for more on whether I’m really engaging in mindful eating:
Chewing This Over
I made the decision a number of years ago to prepare and cook the majority of foods that I eat. This has meant making my own cereals, making lunches the night before and having enough ingredients in my fridge or store cupboard to be able to make a meal every night. In saying this, I’m not adverse to a yummy meal out or making healthier choices when I’m on the road: I tend to use the 80-20 rule. However, despite my good intentions, I’m aware that I’m not quite getting it right.
You see I tend to use my lunch breaks as a time to catch up. Sometimes, it means cooking up something quickly and eating it at home. Other times it means preparing a soup or salad and eating when I’m out and about. But the other thing I notice is my ‘catch up’ time is often a time I read emails; check my social media campaigns and generally make sure everything is ok in the business.
Although I can pat myself on the back for choosing a great healthy option for lunch, I am becoming more and more aware of how little attention I pay to my food as I eat it. The ‘better respond to that comment’ or ‘reply to this email’ has led me to munching through my home cooked veggie packed balanced lunch without even a look at the plate.
The more we learn about the digestive system, the more we realise how essential chewing is to our health. Traditionally, we were all taught, chewing helps to breakdown food to aid digestion process and this indeed is true. But now we are learning that the chewing action actually sets off a range of chemical reactions in the body that aids the full and complete absorption of a wide range of nutrients, assists with weight management and increases satiation of meals, promotes healthy bacterial growth in the intestine and helps manage immune function and stress levels.
So rather than simply choosing healthier options for meals, it is equally necessary to engage with your meal to ensure you get every ounce of goodness out of it. Simple techniques to assist your chewing habits and to help with mindful eating are to slow down your eating by placing the knife and fork down between mouthfuls, looking and smelling your food before you start and getting away from the phone or laptop as you eat!