Let’s say you’re already well aware that eating wholesome living food is the best approach to complete nutrition and health. Congratulations! You’ve got rule #1 down solid.
But what if you’re eating the right food without supporting your body’s ability to absorb and maximize its’ benefits? You might still be experiencing blood sugar mood swings, cravings, and occasional digestive discomfort. Following a few simple recommendations for how to eat mindfully can help you go from feeling just ‘pretty good’ to experiencing vibrant health and energy!
Here are 5 essential tips for mindful eating:
1. Eat breakfast. It’s true, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and should be treated with the respect it deserves. After an overnight fast, your brain and body are starving for the energy needed to function efficiently. Having a filling breakfast that includes some protein will help keep your mind sharp and undistracted by hunger for several hours. It’ll also prevent the likelihood of unhealthy snacking, and overeating at your next meal. Start the morning off with a glass of water with lemon to hydrate you and stimulate the digestive system, then wait at least 15 minutes before eating breakfast so that your gut is fully ready for digestion action.
2. Eat your biggest meal at lunch. According to the healing tradition of Ayurveda, our digestive fire is strongest in the middle of the day, when we are best able to efficiently digest and absorb the food we eat. This varies slightly from the usual tendency to have ‘just a salad’ for lunch and then fill up during dinner (which could leave undigested food in your gut overnight and cause weight gain, sluggishness, acne, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms). Having a hearty lunch in the middle of the day, and then a light meal for dinner is more in harmony with the body’s natural rhythms and will do better to maintain inner cleanliness.
3. Eat until you’re full. One of the reasons that restrictive diets fail is because they leave people hungry, therefore more likely to resort to unhealthy snacking from desperation for energy. Not eating enough also causes unstable blood sugar, which can affect your mood (crankytown!). Whether you’re having breakfast, lunch, or dinner, just make sure to eat sufficient portions that leave you satisfied and not hungry again for at least 2.5 hours. Snacking between meals is ok but if your portions are the right size for you, you should only need a light snack to get you to the next meal.
4. Don’t drink too much while eating. Whenever you go to a restaurant, you get a tall glass of water with ice. That sure is refreshing, but it hinders your digestive efficiency by diluting the acidic juices in your stomach, which can result in incomplete food breakdown, acid reflux, and bloating. Just a little bit of lukewarm water is all you really need while eating your meal, and then of course hydrate between meals.
5. Chew. Most people don’t do enough of this, but it’s one of the best ways to maintain a healthy digestive system. Chewing food thoroughly, until the specific thing you just ate is transformed into an unidentifiable ball of mush, can help you reduce weight and boost the immune system. By letting your teeth do more of the physical food breakdown, you are sparing your gut of that job and therefore preserving precious energy for other processes in the body. You don’t have to chew every bite 100 times, just make sure there are no remaining unchewed pieces of food in your mouth before you swallow.
Because approximately 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract, keeping your gut clean and clear is vital for maintaining overall health and wellness. It’ll also help you have a peaceful mind, a positive outlook, and live a long and happy life!