Mastering Slow Eating Truly, Calmly, Deeply

Did you try slow eating and the 1 Bite Challenge last week?

How did it go for you?

I’m excited about the 1 Bite Challenge because it got me motivated to do it myself. I have more for you over the next six weeks!

For the first few days, I kept forgetting to think about it and gradually I became more aware of my eating patterns. On the 7th day it kicked in and took 20 minutes to eat my lunch! I sat down with my plate of food, ate one bite at a time, chewing each mouthful, putting the fork down in between bites, sat back and enjoyed the meal. It was delicious, and I felt full ¾ of the way through!

If you’re just beginning to view the 1 Bite Challenge or Mastering Slow Eating posts, you can view them here. The relationship to eating your food slowly has an enormous impact on your health. I discuss the benefits of slow eating on your health in this three-part series Mastering Slow Eating.

In the first segment Mastering Slow Eating, I discuss the body’s physiological state when eating fast and what it does to your health. You can experience a slow eating exercise in a recording in that post. The 2nd post, Understanding Your Relationship With Food, talked about the digestive process, what the brain does and introduced the one bite challenge.

In this post Mastering Slow Eating Truly, Calmly, Deeply, we’re exploring emotional eating and methods for approaching food mindfully at the table.

This is a lifelong journey and one that doesn’t get solved overnight.

I started out saying that it took me 20 minutes to eat my lunch because I typically eat fast. On that day, I ate alone and fought with myself the entire time to just get it over with, finish it and fulfill this inner anxiety to feel full. These are symptoms of emotional eating.

Many people are emotional eaters and use food to calm, overcome or find comfort from their personal challenges. Our attachment to food is very personal.

As a nutritionist, I educate people to manage their health issues by recommending appropriate foods.  I may ask them to eliminate allergen type foods such as dairy, wheat, sugar, chicken, eggs and caffeine so that their body can heal and reintroduce them later.  I personally know the struggle and recognize the difficulty because its unimaginable to live without those essential foods. We are so attached to the flavours, routines and comfort food provides us that we overcompensate with indulgence.

Practicing slow eating is one major step for tackling emotional eating and changing your eating habits.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself?

  • Do you come to the table relaxed, calm and focused on eating your food?
  • How deeply are you connected to your food?
  • Do you think about where your food came from, the process, the people who planted, picked it, made it or the animal’s care when you’re eating?
  • Do you show gratitude for food on your plate?
  • How much time do you take to eat a meal or a snack?
  • Do you use a knife or just eat with a fork or spoon?
  • Do you apply table manners and etiquette?
  • Where do you buy your food?
  • Do you cook your food?
  • How do you present your food at the table?

These are all important questions that may sound trivial but are essential steps for changing food habits. If you can take a step back for a moment and become curious about your relationship to food, you may begin to feel differently about it.

As I mentioned earlier, your relationship to food is a life long journey to get to the root cause if your wish. Those triggers of being bored, anxious, emotionally distraught or depressed are symptoms to deeper issues that require more support.

What I’m proposing here are ways to live now as part of that journey.

The difficulty I experience and so do many of my clients ask are what to eat when hungry and how to calm down to enjoy their food?

Taking time to organize your meals or having snack foods available at your fingertips is another topic and you can view previous posts where I’ve talked about meal planning.

Feeling calm and relaxed when sitting at the table (I do recommend eating at a table and not standing), triggers a biological response to digesting your food properly and feeling full and satisfied without overeating. In the first post, I talked about the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system and in the 2nd segment, the importance of the brain’s response to food.

The human body is allowing seeking ways to maintain balance or homeostasis. When out of balance, the body will trigger disruptors that will cause weight gain, increase cravings or digestive problems. These are signs that things are not working well.

Download the 7 Tips for Enjoying Better Health Every Day!

When we first approach the table, we’re usually consumed by distractions of the days activities, evening plans, if the food is cooked enough, how does it look, will it taste as good as the recipe, is it healthy enough, will I gain weight or what to say to the people I’m having dinner with, so I don’t overeat, and the mental list goes on and on….

Here are some ways for calming yourself down before and during eating a meal at the table.

  • Take three deep breaths
  • Say a prayer if you wish
  • Do a simple mediation:  May I live with ease, May I care for myself happily, May I have an open heart
    May I be free from anxiety and worry, May I be happy, May I be at peace….
  • Look at your food and admire its beauty
  • Look deeply into your food and begin to see it backwards, from where it came and how it came to be on your plate from the earthworms, soil bacteria, fungi, bees, etc of nature providing for us.

We are dependent on the life energy of countless beings and you can honour them with gratitude and appreciation of their hard work. If you take a few seconds to think about its evolution and history, you will create a deeper connection for giving thanks.

What manners did you grow up with at the table?

My husband is from Europe. Applying manners at the table was fundamental to how he ate.

First, he had to wait until everyone was seated at the table before eating. In my family, everyone started eating when they got their plate and by the time my mother sat down everyone had eaten. In European culture that is unacceptable.

 #1 Wait until everyone is seated at the table before putting a bite of food in your mouth, be respectful!

He uses a knife and fork together when eating his food. The knife and fork are always in his hands and used for both cutting and moving food on the fork to eat. At the table we usually have 3 to 4 utensils, one to two forks, a knife and a spoon. Most North American families eat with a fork only. I’m sure Meghan Markle had to learn a few things before she started eating with the British Royals.

When using a knife and fork, you slow down putting food in your mouth and chewing before the next bite. Don’t just using a knife for cutting a piece of meat, take your time cutting your food into smaller portions. (Don’t use the side end of your fork!)

#2 Use a knife with your fork throughout the meal

Having a napkin by your plate and placing it on your lap is another important lesson I learned from my husband. How often does a napkin sit there untouched? Regularly wiping your mouth or hands from food debris throughout the meal is respectful and not leaving your napkin on the table during the meal or before everyone has finished.

#3 Use a napkin and place it on your lap

Sitting upright in your chair. How often have members of your family sat slouched down in the chair or legs stretched out under the table? Eating upright and swallowing your food in a vertical position allows your chewed food to travel more easily down the esophagus (so you don’t choke) to your stomach to digest.

#4 Sit upright in your chair

Raising our two sons, the battle to apply manners was an ongoing fight. I’d say it’s not important, let them eat how they want. I was so wrong! My husband’s way of eating is much more respectful, appreciative and kinder to each other. Being mindful of everyone around you, waiting until everyone sat at the table before taking a bite, using a knife and fork together not one at a time, using a napkin and sitting upright makes a difference.

This week’s 1 Bite Challenge!

I’m going to continue the 1 Bite Challenge for the next six weeks with a different tip each week. This week, try eating your meal with a fork and knife together throughout the meal. The knife is used in a variety of ways other than cutting. Watch the video HERE  

Some documentaries, books and mindfulness practices to Look at:

At the Hot Docs Documentary Festival  in Toronto a number of years ago, I saw a film called Canned Dreams. It documented seven lives of the people, locations and processes of all the ingredients for mass producing a can of ravioli.  I have never forgotten it. It enlightened me about globalization, the people harvesting, caring for animals and preparing the ingredients were all personally affected by their jobs which indirectly affects the food.  Watch it here. (Warning, animals are shown slaughtered in the film)

In Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, he takes readers on a journey from field to plate. It’s an excellent expose’ of the agricultural system, the food industry and inequality in our food access. Pollan brings awareness to our disconnect to the food we eat. taking it for granted especially around whole natural foods, the impact of the environment and our treatment of animals.

There are many documentary’s out there to watch:  Food Inc, Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Hungry for Change, Fed UP (sugar epidemic on kids) The Fruit Hunters, What the Health, and many, many more. I encourage you to watch some of them are on You Tube, Netflix or streaming sites.

Slowing down your mind and body to relax before and during eating can change your experience.  Become aware of your impatience and time it takes to eat. Make time for eating slowly. Question yourself why are you in such a rush to get through life or the experience of eating. Move to a deeper inner awareness of self in changing your relationship with food and show gratitude where food comes from. Practice mindfulness of being in the moment while eating.

Follow me on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/RaniGlickWellness/ as I record more my slow eating experiences

If you like this series, watch out for the upcoming program Eating With Intention that goes into greater depth about slow eating techniques and gaining more insights into understanding your relationship with food.

References:

  • Peace In Every Step and How To Eat, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Mindfulness on the Go, Jan Chozen Bays
  • Slow Eating, Marc David
  • www.sarabest.com

Have a great week and in good health,

P.S. Download the 7 Tips for Enjoying Better Health Every Day!

P.S.S.  To learn more about enjoying better health every day, coming soon is a special offer for my new program Embrace Your Third Act!.

wellness@raniglick.com