You Are HOW You Eat
In today’s fast-paced world, the act of eating has transformed into a rushed routine for many. But what if I told you that how you eat might be just as important as what you eat? The science behind mindful eating suggests that the way we approach our meals can significantly impact our overall well-being. From hormonal responses to nervous system activation, here’s a deeper look into the healing potential of mindful eating.
Chewing and Hormonal Release: Did you know that the simple act of chewing can trigger the release of essential hormones that help alleviate stress? Research has shown that chewing stimulates the production of hormones like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which play crucial roles in mood regulation and stress reduction. By chewing your food thoroughly, you’re not just aiding digestion; you’re also providing your body with a natural stress-relieving mechanism. Game changer, I know.
Vagus Nerve Activation: Ever heard of the saying, ‘Chew your food well and hum a little tune’? There’s a reason behind it! Humming or even saying ‘yummmm’ (with lots of mmm) activates the vagus nerve, a key player in our parasympathetic nervous system. This activation helps the body shift into a restful state, promoting relaxation and improving digestion. By engaging the vagus nerve through these simple practices, we can support our body’s ability to process food more efficiently and with less stress.
Sensual Eating and Relaxation: Eating mindlessly or in a stressed state can negatively impact our digestion and overall health. On the contrary, practicing sensual eating – allowing pleasure to be a part of the experience – supports a relaxed state that benefits the body on many levels. Our body and mind are not separate. When we eat quickly or with guilt, we are sending signals of contraction to the body. When we eat out of obligation and boredom, we will likely not feel nourished physically or emotionally. When we get present with the miracle of taste and offer gratitude for the abundance of the Earth that we get to consume, then things start to take on a different flavor (pun intended). Taking the time to savor each bite, appreciating flavors, textures and aromas allows our bodies to enter a state of ease which allows our bodies to absorb more nutrients. Not only that, it can help reduce anxiety, improve mood and increase overall energy and vitality. I know this first hand as an eating disorder survivor. It wasn’t until I started to view pleasure as an integral part of living a healthy life that things transformed in the most miraculous ways.🦋
If you go to any bookstore (do they still exist?) and search the nutrition section, you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of books telling you what you should and shouldn’t be eating. If it were that simple, there wouldn’t need to be so many books and one diet would work for everyone. But that’s not the case. There’s a deeper root that is getting overlooked. We are focusing too much on what ‘what’ and not enough on the ‘how’ or even the ‘why’ (that could be a whole other blog post in itself).
In a world where the focus often lies solely on what’s on our plates, the manner in which we eat deserves equal attention. Mindful eating isn’t just about the food; it’s about the entire experience – from the way we chew to how we engage with our senses. It’s a sensual experience. A gift of existence! And pleasure is good for you. It’s time to slow down, receive and transform our meals into moments of nourishment and self-care. Have a delicious day! xo