SURPRISING WAY TO ALLEVIATE DEPRESSION (HINT: YOU DO IT EVERY DAY)
Did you know that something you do every single day can help eliminate anxiety, stress, and even depression? No, it’s not brushing your teeth, but you’re close! It has to do with your teeth…
Take a moment to consider the overwhelming variety of gum and candy on the shelves of stores. The fact that there is either a restaurant, supermarket, or convenience store on nearly every public street corner suggests that eating food is a celebrated pastime in our country and around the world. Astonishingly, the rate of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stress, and depression have skyrocketed in sync with the industrial advances and increased food choices and over consumption.
During my professional yoga training, one of the exercises we were guided through was a conscious eating meditation. We were each handed a slice of watermelon and instructed to chew each bite at least thirty times, without swallowing. It changed my life. I hadn’t realized that I had been literally shoveling food down my mouth for nearly twenty years. I was conscious about what I was eating but not with how I was eating. Forks make it easy to shovel. Being distracted makes it easy to forget to be present. When we eat food without properly chewing, that can cause a range of severe health issues for our bodies have to work that much harder to break down our food. This can cause fatigue, indigestion, and many other uncomfortable situations.
The answer lies in the act of chewing. If we do not chew our food well, we will never feel 100% nourished. Lack of proper chewing can lead to many chronic and prevalent health issues such as over eating, smoking, chronic gum chewing, and other types of oral fixations, as well as fatigue, irritability, and digestive issues. Take a moment and visualize some free range cattle on a pasture. Not only is their natural diet grass, but they constantly chew it and chew it… and chew it. The reason these cows don’t get fat is, number one, because they are eating their natural diet and not a diet of corn and soy from a factory farm… but they are also not in a hurry to swallow. They’re not eating while driving. They’re not eating while stressed or watching TV. They are just chillin and chewin.
Chewing initiates the breakdown and assimilation of food. The moment we begin chewing our gut releases enzymes to help break down carbohydrates. Chemicals are also sent to our brains, which can contribute to a temporary euphoric mood. The idea is to keep chewing. Chew slowly. Chewing is the answer, not necessarily eating and swallowing large amounts at a time. You may notice that the more you chew, the tastier the food becomes, especially if it is a whole food. I’ve noticed that chewing plain brown rice becomes an incredibly satisfying and somewhat sweet experience the longer I chew.
Benefits of chewing:
MORE FLAVOR– If you try to chew processed artificial food, you may notice the texture and taste become artificial and chemical-like after many chews.
MORE NUTRITION- Chewing allows our bodies the opportunity to absorb nutrients from our food. When we are properly nourished, nourished, we will feel more energized, less stressed, and less hungry.
BETTER DIGESTION- Poor digestion is intricately linked to depression. Inflammation of the gut comes in all forms, from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to constipation to diarrhea to yeast infections to weight gain, diabetes, and more. You may have heard that the gut is the ‘second brain’. More of the neurotransmitter serotonin (responsible for your mood) is produced in the stomach than in the brain. Take a moment to think of the feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you see a person you love, or a pit in your stomach during a time of despair—your mind directly affects your belly, and vice versa. According to scientific evidence, our gut is created by identical tissue as our brain when we are in early stages of fetal development.
1. Use chopsticks
2. If using a fork, put fork down between bites. Breathe while chewing.
3. Eat in a relaxed environment. Avoid distraction, driving, TV, etc.
4. Notice textures and flavors before they are gone! Make it a meditation or you’ll always be hungry.
5. Consider that your body moves at a slower pace than your mind. Be gentle with yourself.