Staying “Present” while eating

Simona Hadjigeorgalis

Simona Hadjigeorgalis

Last month, Dr. Friedman spoke to us about the power of turning off our cell phones and being Present.  This month, let’s consider bringing that “Presentness” to our meals.  In the rush of the day, we do not always have time to slow down and be Present as we eat.  We think we are being efficient as we multitask meals with meetings, checking email, and running from one errand or appointment to the next.  But as we do that, most of us are not considering how that impacts our digestive process; which in turn impacts our overall health and well being.

Our bodies put a lot of effort into converting the food we eat into fuel for the body.   The digestive process is a mechanical and chemical process that includes teeth, salivary glands, digestive enzymes, and about 30 feet of internal tubing.  By slowing down to be Present as we eat, we are supporting our bodies in the digestion process.

How can we incorporate mindfulness into our meals and still get everything else accomplished?  The formula will be different for each of us.  Here are a few techniques for staying Present while eating.  Try one or two and see what works for you.

1)      Breathing

After you sit down, but before you eat, take 10 seconds to breathe.  Breathing in through the nose and out through the nose has a measured physiological effect that can calm our bodies as we transition from everything we were just doing to our meal.

2)      Prayer

This can be the Hamotzi, or a silent prayer of thanks.  Saying a prayer before eating is another way to create a sacred space at your table and differentiate the eating experience.

3)      Chewing

Chewing is a critical part of the digestive process.  Pay attention to how many times you chew each bite.   Chewing is important because it breaks down our food  into smaller pieces which alleviates work from the lower portion of the digestive tract.  It also adds digestive enzymes through the saliva which aids in the process of converting our food to energy as well as breaking our food down for proper elimination.  It won’t take long for you to notice the positive effects of chewing more.   Try chewing every bite 30-40 times.  It seems like a lot at first, but once you experience the impact it has on regularity and energy levels you may not mind taking a few extra chomps. Find more info on dental care issues.

4)      Affirmations

A positive affirmation can be said at the start of the meal, it can be something you think to yourself while you are chewing, or an idea you can think about while you are choosing what to eat.   Experiment with saying a positive affirmation such as “Everything I eat becomes health and harmony within”, then pay attention to how you react to the message.  See if it helps you stay Present while you eat.

Example in action

Share your success stories from this month’s article in the Comments field below, and we’ll all learn from each other.  I’ll start us off.

–        I put my fruit shakes in a bowl with crunchy buckwheat on top.  I was amazed to find how much more satiated I was after eating the same sized smoothie with a spoon rather than drinking through a straw. ~ Simona

About Simona Hadjigeorgalis
Simona Hadjigeorgalis is a writer and advocate for women's self-care. She's the author of The Busy Woman's Guidebook to Vibrant Vitality, creator of the Digestion Zone, and co-founder of the wellness website

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