Everyone is so bloody obsessed with food nowadays 🥱
But, they don’t pay nearly enough attention to how they eat it. I mean, all that fretting, planning and preparation to just absent-mindedly scoff it back? Or, worse still — to eat it while in a stressed state.
I’m not a fan of Mindful Eating per se, as I believe health conscious folk are already too ‘mind-full’, as they fixate on —
What to eat
Protein, fat, carbs.
(How much of each to consume and in what proportions.)
What new and exciting recipe to follow to showcase their culinary skills, or to seek novelty in their diet.
Why to eat it
For health, for fitness (strength), for entertainment, for comfort, to change state.
Why not to eat it
To lose weight, to not binge, to not emotionally eat.
When to eat
Intermittent fasting, time restricted eating.
Where to eat
At the table, with family, at the latest ‘health crazed’ café or restaurant.
And, well, even…
Who (not) to eat
Animals, and fishies.
It’s a lot.
When I explain to my clients that they need to be eating ‘proper’, they say one of three things:
Most — admit they ‘hoover’ their food up.
Some — proudly announce that they ‘count their chews’.
A few — know about Mindful Eating.
But when I take them through my version, it’s all news to them.
The way I teach my clients to eat helps to:
Improve digestive capacity
Minimise food intolerances
By decreasing irritation and inflammation
(By calming the immune system.)
Reduce stress and anxiety
By calming the nervous system.
And, as a bonus feature, it’s:
It generally slows you down, and plonks you into the elusive ‘now’.
All of this makes you feel more ‘fuel efficient’ — as in lighter, cleaner, clearer, calmer, with more za-za-zoom 🤗
Do not engage in any other activity while eating.
(Ensure you do this at least once to give this eating practice a fair trial.)
So that means:
No TV watching
No reading/social media
No thinking (of anything other than what you’re consuming)
No counting (of bites)
Instead, focus on activating the cephalic digestion!
This is the digestive process that occurs in your body before you even pop food in your face.
And, how might one do this, you ask?
Warn your body that food is on the way by actively thinking about your next meal in order to build anticipation for it. You’re effectively letting your body know that you’ve escaped the ‘Sabre-Tooth Tiger’; that you’re expecting to eat dinner — not be dinner!
This should come as quite the relief to your body 😉
To help this process along, ensure you:
Appreciate the different colours, shapes and textures.
Note: It doesn’t have to be fancy, mind — it’s best kept plain & simple.
Get your schnoz right in there — go on!
Inhale your food fully — until you feel it in your solar plexus. How do you know when you’ve filled this up? You’ll feel satiated from the smell alone. Then slowly exhale the smell through your mouth.
Repeat this process three times.
Note: By simply performing this part of my process you’ll activate the Parasympathetic arm of your nervous system, which is responsible for correct digestion, and for calming you down.
Acknowledge how lucky you are to have enough kai to fill your puku. 🙌
(For my international readers: kai & puku are the Māori words for food & stomach. )
Here are the additional techniques that I encourage my clients to partake in throughout the whole Meditative Munching experience:
I prefer that we eat with our fingers where possible — the sucking and licking of food off our fingers adds another sensory element and just makes food taste that much better!
However, if you must use a cold, hard, sterile, metal weapon to eat…
Please ensure that you pop it down between bites.
The same goes if you’re eating with your fingers — pop the food down between bites.
Don’t focus on chewing, or counting…
That would ruin any feed 🤦♀️
Instead close your eyelids, and focus on how your food tastes and on how it feels in your mouth. Really savour each mouthful. Throughly coat it in saliva…
Pick out a particular flavour, then another… then another. Until it’s ‘all gone’.
In another mouthful, pick out a texture; feel it change in your mouth from say, crunchy to mushy.
Feel as one mouthful of liquid descends down your throat in three or four smooth movements, creating a gentle whirlpool like action.
Very important: Don’t take another mouthful until your previous mouthful is gone. And, I mean completely gone — wipe your teeth clean with your tongue. Then once its all disappeared down your gullet, give it a bit of space to determine whether you enjoyed it, and/or if it actually sat well with you.
Note: Did you know that you have taste buds in your upper oesophagus?! That’s cool, right?
Where possible, eat with your mouth slightly open, and don’t suppress noises.
I don’t care what your parents taught you when you were a little kid…
I’m telling the adult you, now, that:
Eating in silence, is like having sex in silence…
I’ll say no more 😉
As you eat, you can keep alternating between the opening techniques — the looking at, and the smelling of, your food — you don’t just have do it to start with.
For instance, if you feel your digestive function ‘stalling’ (and you will, once you get the hang of this) — restart it by again taking a GANDER at your what you’re popping in your pie-hole and by taking another whiff of your chow. Your digestive function will ‘kick back in’ and you can recommence your Meditative Munching.
Note: As you get better and better at this, you’ll find that any off-topic thought can stall your digestive processes. The solution? Get back to your Meditative Munching.
(Eating this way makes you consume less food because it gives your body time to register that it’s satiated.)
Try this — if you’re not convinced about eating with your mouth slightly open…
Make yourself an Artisan sourdough sandwich with peanut butter.
Chew the sandwich with your mouth closed.
You can taste the PB more intensely than the sourdough.
Now, chew the sandwich with your mouth slightly open. You can now taste the sourdough more intensely than the PB 🤗
Aeration — it’s a taste sensation!
It can make flavours & aromas more intense, and enhance mouth-feel of foods.
Think of the fun you can have rediscovering your fodder x
Note: Obviously don’t engage in this sort of activity while in polite company – as us Kiwis aren’t quite ready for this yet. I think most of us would admit to suffering from ‘eating noises’ Misophonia to one degree or another 😳😖
Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.
Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.Book online