Last weekend I went to a meditation class locally in my city and there was a very interesting exercise they had us do. They had us eat a muffin while doing a mindfulness eating meditation. This practice was to train ourselves to slow down and recognize what we’re eating. We as a society often eta quickly, on the go, even while driving. I see it all the time! We don’t have a patient relationship with our food, with any food for that matter.
Why does that matter? Well, the faster you eat the more difficult for your digestive system to digest the food you just consumed. Why? The saliva in your mouth contains enzymes that help to break down the food. If you barely chew your food and gulf it down, your digestive system is already in trouble and the food hasn’t even touched your gut yet. When the food does reach your gut it is not chewed enough so the enzymes in your saliva that should help break it down are not there, not to mention that the food is in larger chunks because it was chewed less. Your digestive system has to work extra hard to process this food, extract nutrients and remove waste.
If this continues on and on, your digestive system becomes weaker over time and you are more likely to add a few pounds of fat. The practice of mindful eating taught me to once again slow down and enjoy the food, the texture, the taste, the range of flavor and everything else. By slowing down when you eat your body actually digests food better in another way also, we’ll get to that in a minute. First I want to share with you three practices that you can engage in before you eat food every single time to enhance digestion and benefit your health. These practices are simple and engage your body and digestive system to better handle the food you consume.
If you follow these practices consistently you should noticed improved digestion, improved bowel movements and less digestive discomfort from meals or snacks.
3 Things To Do Before You Eat
1. Drink Water:
I do not recommend drinking water during your meal. The water (or any liquid) can and will interfere with digestive enzymes and acids causing your digestive system to have more difficulty digesting. If you eat healthy foods you will be eating fruits and vegetables that already contain water content and they have just the right water content and nutritional profile to digest perfectly as is, so keeping drinking separate from eating is a definite recommendation. You do want your body and digestive system (especially your intestines) to be hydrated before eating though. This is why it is recommended that you drink water 20 minutes or so before you eat. This hydrates your body and helps to purify your digestive system to prepare for more food to digest. Drink before, not during your meals.
2. Take 9 Deep Breaths Before Eating Anything:
Deep breathing is often overlooked for it’s many health benefits. By taking approximately 9 deep breaths before eating food your body can better digest food. These deep breaths allow your body’s nervous system to go into a parasympathetic state, which means that you are more relaxed and calm. The energy that would otherwise keep your nerves tense, tight and on guard can now go towards your digestive organs. Deep breathing also stimulates detoxification through the lungs (in the form of carbon dioxide) as well as stimulates better lymphatic flow. When you detoxify better your body can better handle the new food load. This should be a daily practice beyond right before eating food for the many health and wellness benefits it offers.
3. Appreciate Your Food & Set An Intention:
Many cultures pray before they eat, why? To be grateful and ask for nourishment from the food before they eat it. Intention is powerful so having a prayer or take a moment of silence to appreciate the food, even if it’s just for 5 seconds is great for your mindset before eating. Set the intention that you will eat slow, thoroughly and chew your food. If you eat slow and chew your food your body will have an easier and more beneficial experience from the food. Your body will benefit and you will get more nutritional value from what you eat simply by slowing down and chewing your food fully.
There you have it, drink water 20 minutes before eating, take 9 deep breaths before eating and say a prayer or set an intention of gratitude for your food and intend to eat slowly and mindfully so that you can chew thoroughly and fully breakdown your food and give it the enzymes that make it easier on your gut.
To healthy, and mindful eating!