It takes more than food to fill you up. Taste is only a small part of a good meal. Enjoying your food depends on how you eat, when you eat, even the company you keep while eating. So, when you’re hungry, slow down, relax, take a deep breath, and keep in mind the following suggestions:
RELAX. Relaxation is the key to a better digestion. According to James E. Loch, Ph.D and Jeffrey A. Migdow, MD, in their book, Take a Deep Breath, your mouth produces saliva devoid of important digestive enzymes when you’re stressed. Learn to relax before a meal. Do a little exercise, sit quietly for a few minutes, or meditate, whatever you need to de-stress from the demands of your daily life.
EAT IN GOOD COMPANY. Stress-producing dinner companions can ruin even the most well-balanced meal. Try not to eat with people who create emotional tension at the table. The way a meal is prepared counts too; an angry cook will communicate that negative energy through the food. If you’re preparing, make sure you’re preparing with love and care for those who will eat the food. Keep the conversation away from emotional issues.
EAT IN A PLEASANT ENVIRONMENT. Make your meal aesthetically pleasing. Set a clean table. Light some candles. Play soft music. Arrange the food artfully on the plate. The meal should be a feast for the senses as well as your palate. And while you’re eating turn off the TV. Close your book or newspaper. Take a deep breath. Look at your food. Look at your food looking at you. A meal is a profound affirmation of our existence. Give it the time and attention it deserves.
EAT WITH GRATITUDE. Take a few minutes for reflection before your meal. In the words of Paul Pitchford in Healing with Whole Foods: “The enjoyment of good food and company create such an inner joy that it’s possible to taste the sweetest of nectar in even the simplest of food. Without this joy, and with no blessing offered, the most wholesome, delicious food can seem tasteless and leave the soul hungry.” At every meal, remember to feed your soul and express your gratitude for the food.
CHEW. The mouth is where digestion begins. Because your stomach and intestines have no teeth, improperly chewed food can lead to gas, indigestion, and even under-nourishment. Lino Stanchich, one of the most renowned experts on chewing, recommends chewing each bite 50 times or more. Chewing not only improves your digestion, increases your energy level and helps reduce food cravings; it also activates your entire endocrine system, strengthening your immune system. Chewing can also have magical effects on your psyche. Chewing a meal for an hour can be a good alternative to therapy if you use that time to self-reflect and breathe. Simply by chewing well, you can greatly improve your overall health.
RELAX AFTER EATING. Sit at the table. Take about 20 minutes to let your food settle before you start getting up or move on to other activities. Ideally, go for a walk after eating. Mealtimes are important. They should be honored with care and respect.
By Laurie Niehof Reprinted, with permission from Macrocosm Magazine, Winter 95.