When was the last time you took an intentional moment before gulping down your food?
We humans dash through our lives fighting time. Among other compromises, this often converts into limited time for meals, and thereby little or no time for that most overlooked ritual: Mastication. Our fascination or fixation with what to eat has drowned out this equally important facet of nutrition.
Before the chewing process sets in motion it is equally influential to take a moment and pause before the fork even goes into the mouth. This pause is called the Cephalic Phase of digestion and it has to do with the brain and food relationship. This reflex starts the release of important enzymes for breakdown, assimilation and absorption. It ignites the digestive fires and prepares the stomach acids to start releasing & churning.
The pause can include an affirmation of gratitude. You can affirm that you would like this food to uplift and serve you in the most healthful way possible. Example: “I am grateful to have wonderful food & may every bite of this meal help me to feel good in my body!” Be creative and start a trend amongst your friends and family.
So many people around the globe suffer from digestive disturbances and are constantly buying more supplements to support their digestive tract (me included.) Chewing is free and completely natural. Researchers show that chewing 32 times is optimal but you should experiment for yourself and see what feels good. Most likely you will be shocked to notice how little you have been chewing. Some people aim for 50 to 100 times. That seems like too many for me but that is another philosophy that is often followed on a Macrobiotic Diet.
With 70% of our immune system being in the gut, it is time to take the digestive system more seriously. Through this mechanical and chemical process of chewing your food thoroughly, you will require less food and feel more satiated because the nutrients are more accessible to the body and the digestive system has to do less work. This is the part where you might be most excited – when the body frees up energy around digestion, there is more energy to be used elsewhere. Often fatigue/lack of energy has to do with the foods being consumed or the more nutrient rich foods not being consumed. Start to notice what you are putting into your body and how you feel after. Slowing down before you start eating may be your first step to awareness.
One other tip for slowing down – try using chopsticks!
Let me know how this goes for you – remind the people you are eating with and ask them to remind you. It’s a group effort.