Our lives are so busy and fast-paced that we often eat on the run or before we dash off to the next thing. We are programmed to shovel the food in, so we can be off and running. This is just plain sad. Food should be enjoyed and it should be savored, or at least tasted. Whether you are eating with a group of people or on your own, eating should be a time of slowing down. When we slow down we are able to be more present in the moment, which can provide space for gratitude, calmness, and a nice break in the day. It is also important because slower eating allows your body and brain time to recognize when you are full—helping to decrease the chances of overeating. The other reason to try slowing down your eating is that chewing is the first step in our body’s digestive process. Our saliva helps to break down the food so that our stomachs can then digest the food more easily. If we skip that step, not so fun things like gas, indigestion, and bloating can occur.
So how do we slow down our eating? I’m not going to lie, it is a challenge. And it is a process that I am still working on myself, but I can say that since I have worked to slowed myself down I enjoy my food much more and I rarely overeat the way I used to. So here are four things I have found helpful and/our my clients have found success with.
1) Put the fork down. In between bites, don’t get the next bite ready to shovel into your mouth, instead put the fork down and chew. Even just doing this will slow you down a lot and will allow you to take note of what you are eating.
2) Count your chews. Try for 20 chews per bite. If you don’t get there right away, that’s ok. But just see what happens when you chew. This can also be turned into a fun family dinner activity, with everyone trying this together and talking about what they notice.
3) Taste the spices game. Another fun one to do with the whole family. As you take a bit, and chew it, try to identify the different flavors. Is that cinnamon or clove? Is that oregano? Wow! I can really taste the garlic. This not only slows you down but also creates a space for really enjoying what you are eating.
4) Take a deep breath. Before you even start eating, take a moment to take a breath (give thanks, if that feels right to you), but just slow the whole process down. By starting off slower you might actual eat slower…
As I said, this can be a revolutionary shift for some people and it can be a challenge, but try it out, even just for a few days, and see if you notice a difference.