Food fuels our bodies; it is nourishment, and to nourish is to feed or sustain with substances necessary for life and growth. Unfortunately, with our present-day lifestyles, most of us do not make the effort to holistically nourish ourselves. We strive for increased health and want to prevent disease so we turn to diet, supplements, or exercise; but we often overlook the importance of an interesting ingredient consumed at each meal … our attitude.
The process of eating should be an experience of the senses; it should be enjoyable as well as nourishing, and not just part of our daily routine. It can be a time to explore the senses; how it tastes and smells, feeling the texture, or seeing the colors and shapes. Food helps us get through the rough times. Sitting down for a meal or a snack can be a time for regrouping of thoughts or enjoying some needed downtime. The value of a meal can also be measured in the way the meal brings us into relationship with others. The friendship and happiness vitamin.
How we feel and think about food and eating play major roles in how the food we take in will or will not affect our bodies. By listening to body feedback and being open and attentive to the food we eat, we begin to make connections and draw conclusions between what we eat and how we feel. We discover important information about our nutritional needs that no book could ever teach us. We may learn that certain foods yield a desirable effect and others do not. A food that agrees with us one day may not the next. We may even find a food that has an undesirable effect on the body but we like the taste so much that we choose to eat it occasionally. Even the healthiest of foods could prove unhealthy if the motivation for eating them is based on fear of disease rather than love of life
Shopping can also be an experience for your senses. Food should be bought and eaten as fresh as possible; vegetables crisp and rich in color, that look alive. Nuts that haven’t been exposed to open air too long. Meats placed on sale should pose a question of “old vs. over stock”. Quality is the key. Recognize the relationship between food and the world around you. Assume responsibility for your environment by choosing organically-grown foods which promote sustainability. Also choose non-packaged products and products with recyclable packaging
Meal time should be a time of calmness, not a time for family arguments, business transactions or school work. These types of actions have the tendency to cause tenseness. We do not digest our food properly when stressed and in a state of fight or flight. Take a moment to relax before eating. Let the tension of the day go. Just as you prepare your food, so must you prepare yourself for eating
Chew thoroughly. Start with small bites. The chewing process causes the release of saliva and enzymes in the mouth which mix with the food and stimulate enzymes and hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This action then stimulates the release of other enzymes from the pancreas. Chewing well decreases the break-down time of the food particles, decreasing the work load on the body, making it more efficient at getting the nutrients to where they are needed. Aim for an 80% fullness level. Give your brain twenty minutes to tell your stomach that you are satisfied before going back for seconds.
The next time you’re about to place something in your mouth think about the quality of the food, the effect that eating that food will have on you, your friends and your family. Think about the environment, the distance that food traveled to get to you and how much fuel was used in its journey. Expand your view of nourishment and add back in self-love, community and spirituality. Create festive and sensuous experiences with your food and most of all, make a conscious choice to eat that food at that moment with complete love of life.