Stop and Smell the . . . Salad?

Some days I am too busy to even write my “To-Do List”.  I just try to keep all the balls in the air and flying around in my head.  This is one of those mornings.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I was multi-tasking like we all do and working on a project when I realized it was after noon and I was hungry.  So I went to the kitchen to toss together my usual salad for lunch.  While I was doing that I started to peel and chop some of the veggies I’d need to make dinner.  Then my phone pinged to alert me that I had a text message.  I responded to the text, finished chopping my veggies and sat down to my salad.  I had my iPad in front of me and was catching up on email while I ate.  I was shoveling salad and reading and thinking about my afternoon to-dos when all of the sudden a spinach leaf headed down the wrong pipe and I started choking.  I think the choking was the only thing that brought me back to the fact that I was actually eating!  I looked down at my bowl.  Oh wow.  The salad is nearly gone and I hardly remember eating it!

Sometimes it feels like life is just a series of to-dos.  We rush through one thing to get to the next and to the next, checking off the list as we go.  We grab some packaged car-friendly breakfast to eat on the way to work, or school, or the first morning errand.  We gobble down a quick lunch so that we’re not late to that next meeting.  We rush home and throw together a quick dinner (or worse – drive-thru!) to get to the first on the list of evening activities.  It’s exhausting and it is not healthy!

Rushing through your meals is horrible for your digestion.  Chewing is the first step in the digestion process as the enzymes in your saliva break down your food.  Swallowing food whole and eating too quickly can cause acid reflux and other issues.  Also, if you are eating too quickly you are most likely gulping air, which can lead to belching and stomach discomfort. 

Beyond that, rushing through meals can even leave you unsatisfied.  You are likely to eat more because you don’t give your brain time to signal your stomach that you have had enough.  Sometimes you don’t even realize that you ate because you weren’t paying attention.  This could lead to snacking because you are feeling deprived and not satisfied.

Here are a few tips for more mindful eating.
  • Slow it down
  • Use a plate
  • Sit down at a table . . . without your electronics
  • Before you eat, take a minute to breathe.  Say grace or express gratitude in your own way, or just take a couple of deep breaths to slow yourself down.
  • Look at your food and notice the colors and aromas
  • Try to take small bites rather than shoveling
  • Chew and taste your food!  So often we just inhale and swallow.  Some experts say that you should chew each mouthful 50 times.  That can be pretty difficult to do, but try it once.  You might be surprised how little you are actually chewing. 
  • Pay attention to the flavors and the feel of the food
  • Try putting your fork down between bites
  • Finish with a deep, relaxing breath
Okay – now GO.  Off to the next activity.  At least you’ve had some satisfying nourishment to keep you going.