For many, mealtimes are no longer rituals that invite you to slow down and enjoy food and the company of loved ones, but rather a reflection of our fast-paced multitasking society: meals are rushed and unfocused. The focus has shifted to quick fixes and takeout, and this shift has a negative impact on overall health and well-being.
Food is supposed to nourish, strengthen and heal. As Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine once wisely stated, "let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food". Taking the time to reconnect with the ritual of mealtime and to focus on food while we are eating it, is a great step toward better health. Here's how to makeover your mealtime:
1. Chew your food. This seems simple enough, but so few of us actually do it. Digestion begins in the mouth where our teeth mechanically break down large food particles into smaller ones and enzymes in the saliva begin the process of further breaking down food into particles that can be absorbed by our intestines. Chew your food until it's a paste - it should be more liquid than solid. This is the easiest way to improve digestion.
2. Take time off to eat. Stop multitasking, even at work. Turn off your computer monitor, turn your smartphone to silent, stop working, and just eat. Take fifteen minutes to focus solely on the task of eating, it's worth it. You'll feel better, and when you feel better, you're more productive.
3. Focus on your food. Ever noticed how easy it is to eat an entire box of cookies in front of the television without even realizing it? That's because you weren't focusing on the task at hand: eating. Be mindful of the fragrance, flavour and texture of your food. You'll feel more satisfied with your meal.
4. Try to eat at the same time everyday. Having regular mealtimes will keep your blood levels more steady, which helps control cravings and keeps energy levels consistent. Eating at the same time everyday also lets your body anticipate meals and prepare for the task of digestion, making it more efficient.
5. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed. Many of us as kids were taught to clean our plates, even if we were full. We need to retrain ourselves to stop eating when we no longer feel hungry. Eastern traditions dating back to Confucius suggest eating only until you feel approximately 80% full. You'll feel satisfied and no longer hungry, but won't feel the unpleasant sleepy side effects of a overeating.