Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Most people can identify what a healthy plate of food looks like. But how you eat is just as important as the contents of your plate.
Do you ever wonder why you get a stomach ache after eating? Could it be gluten? Or dairy? Maybe you shouldn’t have eating those chips after all.
Or perhaps, you were just eating carelessly. Most people do and assume when they are in some discomfort, it was down to something they ate. But maybe you need to consider HOW you are eating.
Eating is meant to be a satisfying and sensory experience. We no longer eat food simply to fill a hole in anticipation for our next meal. Nowadays, we can enjoy foods from around the world from a trip to the supermarket, local restaurant or tap via an app!
Here are 5 things to remember when you next sit down to enjoy your food (or drink):
Breath. Breathing properly is likely the most underrated tool to help improve our health. A few deep breathes before you dine, will calm your nervous system and reassure your body to relax. So many people eat meals at their desks, in-front of the TV or on the go either on the bus or in the car. It's one of the worst ways to eat, even if its a super nutritious, wholesome meal. Only when the body feels relaxed will is be able to efficiently digest a meal, producing sufficient stomach acid to break your food down. Just like when we relax, eating should be a slow and calm process that should be savoured and enjoyed.
Use your eyes. When was the last time you took the time to appreciate the colours and textures on your plate (even if its a humble slice of toast). This will signal to your brain that you’re about to eat, encouraging saliva in your mouth and stomach acid production in anticipation of the food to follow, both essential for properly digesting food.
Smell your food. Take a moment to appreciate what is in-front of you. The result in your mouth watering is no accident, its a clever design of the human body to again prepare you for eating.
Chew your food properly. The saliva in your mouth contains enzymes that are not found elsewhere in your gut. So if you don’t break these down properly in the mouth first, it will be harder once the food travels further down. You should aim to chew 20-30x to properly prepare your food for optimal digestion for the rest of the way down. Remember that dull pain you feel after chowing down a big meal? Do this and see the difference it makes.
Eat away from screens! If this is the only thing you do, its is probably the most effective. We are all guilty of this, but watching something while eating is likely to make you feel stressed and prevent proper digestion. Even if you can’t wait to watch your favourite Netflix show, do your body a favour and set your table ready for a restaurant meal, light a candle or 2, put on some music or chat with members of your household or a friend on the phone instead.
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