The Art of Eating

I was having lunch the other day during peak "lunch hour", bang on 1pm. This is the time when corporates are racing around maximising how many items they can successfully tick off their personal 'to-do' list (I know, as I was once an office worker).

So what happened to "just eating lunch"? When was the last time you sat down and enjoyed your food in a nice relaxed environment away from phones, laptops and people yelling at you for yesterdays report. It just doesn't happen for the majority of us.

A lot of my patients find themselves pre-occupied and multitasking whilst they eat instead of just being present and enjoying every last bite. When we eat too quickly we don't taste it and trigger all sorts of unwanted and somewhat embarrassing digestive complaints like smelly farts, burping, indigestion, heart burn, bloating to name a few - aren't you sick of feeling like this!

The art of eating gets lost as we move on from being a toddler and want to become all adult like. Ever watch a toddler eat their food it's more like an abstract art session but they really do exemplify the art of eating. They're so intently focussed on this new food, that nothing else matters. Albeit hardly any of it has ends up in their mouth they certainly know what it looks like, how it feels to squish it between their fingers, and let it stick to their face and what it smells like. And they'll certainly let you know if it's a winner on the taste buds or an absolutely - I ain't touching the stuff and don't even think about giving it to me again as it will end up on the floor - sound familiar?

So for me the art of eating is to eat like a child and start to play with your food again! I don't mean throw it on the floor because that would be down right wasteful at your age but reinvigorate your senses again and spend time chewing, tasting, smelling and savouring your food. And when you chew its not once but a lot - so around 20 times before swallowing. Simply by taking the time to chew, you're allowing your digestion to do it's thing without the added stresses of rushing around whilst talking on your phone and reading an email at the same time. And more importantly you're actually being present with your food and appreciating what you have which feels amazing.

Next time you sit down to eat I urge you to practice mindfulness .. and to do this I want you to turn all gadgets off, no exceptions the TV, computer, phone just get them out of sight and take in a few deep breaths, and just sit for a moment to calm everything down.

I then want you to take a bite of your delicious master piece and to put your fork down between bites. Whilst chewing your food allow it to sit in your mouth for a moment and to notice the texture, taste and aroma it brings. Do these change as you continue to take the second and third bite - does it become sweeter or richer or or do you start to sweat profusely as the chilli kicks in!

Notice how the food makes you feel and in taking the time to eat have you noticed you're actually feeling full because you've allowed the extra time for your full barometer to kick in. if you're wolfing your food down it's just too damn easy to over eat - and this plays a key role when trying to lose weight. If you find yourself eating for emotional reasons rather than actual hunger a good question to ask yourself before grabbing a snack is "Am I am actually hungry?" and drink a glass of water instead. If in fact your still hungry in 15 minutes then have your snack but if not you were probably feeling thirsty rather hungry, and thirst is often confused for hunger.

If you do over eat don't berate yourself, instead acknowledge it and know for next time you'll be more aware. The flip side of this is to feel ok about leaving something on your plate - we all know too well the old saying our parents use to tell us "no dessert if you don't finish your plate" OR "your not leaving the table until you finish your plate". I understand parents just want their kids to eat their veggies but sometimes forcing it on them works against you. As an adult you're in charge so if you feel you can't eat anymore put it away and have it for lunch the next day.

Lets face if you've gone to trouble of making something quite delicious you want to at least enjoy it! So jump on board the SLOW movement - your body will love you for it.

Happy playing!