Mindfulness and Eating Table of Contents
Mindfulness and Eating is a series consisting of 3 parts.
- Mindfulness and Eating: The Art of Awareness, Pt 1
- Mindfulness and Eating: A Practice, Pt 2
- Mindfulness and Eating: Chewing and the Road to Enlightenment, Pt 3
Chewing our food well is a mindful eating technique that helps us digest and absorb our food; it increases satisfaction and brings us to present awareness. Becoming aware of the pattern of our chewing is one of the first steps toward assuring its effectiveness. Mindful chewing helps us to harness the power of the present moment to assist in our health and our experience of life. Following a few simple tools will lead to satisfying mindful chewing.
- Notice the size of the bites you naturally take!
- Notice how much you naturally break off in your mouth and how automatically that bite is sent to the back of your mouth.
- Notice how quickly and unconsciously un-chewed bites are swallowed.
- Notice how well or how inefficiently you chew the rest.
- Notice if you are satisfied while you are eating, or if your attention is on the next bite.
Take smaller bites so as not to overcrowd your mouth. This will prevent you from being forced to swallow portions whole in order to have the remaining amounts be of a manageable size. Grind the food in your mouth until it is all in a paste. The size and texture of food in your mouth needs to be consciously chewed until it is smooth. It takes special attention to keep your food from moving to the back of your mouth where it can no longer be chewed and immediately gets swallowed. Just watch and stay as conscious as you can. Grains, pasta, animal protein, vegetables, nuts and seeds need to be paid especially close attention to, as they require more chewing to break down their tough density, fibers and cellulose.
If you notice that your automatic reflex sends un-chewed food back to be swallowed, see if you can stop the action and pull the food forward.
Small bits of un-chewed foods can be absorbed through the intestinal wall and go straight into the blood stream. Many food allergies are born from swallowing pieces of un-chewed food. The body launches an attack against pieces of pasta or bagels and sees them as foreign invaders instead of attending to viruses and bacteria. This can lead the body to view food as an allergen and drain the body of vital energy.
Put your utensils down between bites, or at least resist preparing for the next bite until you have swallowed. One of the best ways to be present to the bite of food in your mouth is to keep your hands from preparing for the future. Taking your time to sit up straight and put down your fork will be the most physical way to change the pattern of mindless eating.
Mindful chewing helps your body, gives you energy, makes you feel better, helps your digestive system to assimilate more efficiently, and it helps it TASTES GOOD!
The better we chew, the more enzymes help the digestive process, and the less work the stomach has to do. Swallowing food before it is properly chewed puts strain on the work of the stomach. Our stomachs are so overtaxed with refined, processed foods and over eating, or quick eating that we have had a rise in stomach disorders, reflux, heart burn and food allergies.
Taking the time to really concentrate on each bite requires a change of habit. Let’s get to the present and remember to take the time to enjoy this life-giving gift called food.
Nourishing ourselves from within
No matter what we are “eating,” what we are “thinking” is being swallowed right along with it. We can be more and more mindful of our thoughts! We can “THINK” our thoughts. We don’t have to be subject to our thoughts “THINKING US.” Consciously creating loving, healing, positive thoughts and images, flavors our food and aids digestion.
Eating to hide negative thoughts usually doesn’t work for long, and the effect on our bodies and self-esteem can be disastrous. For those moments when we use food to distract from our unpleasant thoughts and emotions, the thoughts and emotions wait for you on the lay-away-plan and grow interest. Eating isn’t something you can give up and be abstinent with, like drugs or alcohol. We still must eat. However, we can use the techniques of mindful eating to become present and practice being with the discomforts and beauty of our complex human emotions. Changing our thoughts of avoidance, negativity, or self-attack to thoughts of self-love, compassion, kindness, and pleasure can be done consciously.
Before eating your food, simply gaze at it, thank it, and imagine light, love and healing as each bite is chewed and swallowed into the body, to build each cell with healthy materials.
Mindful eating can be used as another path to the present. The present holds all the flavors of emotion. Many of us would like to just be present for the “good” ones and ‘check out’ for the “bad ones.” But, there are no bad emotions – only “emotions.” Some are just easier and more enjoyable than others.
We may have to stretch our hearts to hold it all, but our ability to be with the uncomfortable moments is directly proportional to how much pleasure, healing and joy we can experience, as well.
Mindful eating is a practice. So, please allow room for your humanness and place your attention on progress, not perfection. There is no more delicious practice to enlightenment than the enjoying of nature’s scrumptious bounty.
Enjoy and chew for life!
Written by Jo Sutton: http://www.jo-esutton.com/