Take Your Time, Enjoy!

Today I’m going to suggest some eating strategies (with a special nod to Marc David). I can hear the groans now. I promise you, it’s not what you think.

I believe we all need to eat and enjoy high quality food (preferably organic) and have a good balance of micronutrients (protein, good fats, and carbohydrates). As you can guess, this classification truly restricts the consumption of sugar, candy, processed foods, salt, white flour, and anything microwavable as well as using one.  In truth, our nation’s eating habits have been referred to as S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) as well as being based on C.R.A.P. (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol/additives, processed food).  Does this sound familiar?

I want to begin by asking, how long does it take you to eat your meals?  Your body needs at least 20 minutes to know it’s full; if it doesn’t register full, it screams: “Feed me!” So, if you’re guilty of inhaling a meal in fifteen minutes or less (be honest), I would like you to start taking more time to eat. I am not asking you to change overnight; this request may take time.  How about each week adding a few minutes to each meal until you work up to taking a minimum of 20 minutes per meal? With this simple step of eating slowly, you can begin to shift away from such potential health issues as overeating, binging, digestive issues, etc.

I would also like you to truly pay attention during meals.  Again, take your time. Always sit down for your meals and whenever possible use good dishes, candles, relaxing music, and if possible, have good company—be in the present moment and enjoy your food.  Savor each bite; really taste the food. We all need to learn to love eating again and enjoy what we’re eating.  Guess what, food is not your enemy.

Perhaps you’re thinking, I do eat quickly, but I eat the best quality food.  I have a few questions for you.  How is the stress level in your life?  Is it high?  Constant? Do you eat in a relaxed state (see the above paragraph)? If not, even though you’re eating the best quality food, stress can reduce your digestion by 50%.  Think about the nutrients you’re losing, and the money you’re wasting.  As a suggestion, when you sit down to eat, take ten, deep, slow breaths (making the exhale longer than the inhale) and do the same after your meal.  This simple act begins to shift you from a “fight or flight” state into one of relaxation.

In line with this, when you’re eating just eat.  Don’t multitask; this means no TV, reading, eating at your desk/in front of the computer, etc.  Doing any other activities can create a stress response in your body, and this is hazardous to your health—see previous paragraph on loss of nutrients.  Also, if your attention is elsewhere, you’re eating mindlessly.  A dangerous situation.

To help avoid stressing over eating, learn to be non-judgmental about food.  Don’t beat yourself up.  You know what I mean:  “I shouldn’t be eating.” “I’m 10 pounds overweight.”” I hate the way I look.”  Need I go on?  Again, such thinking creates stress, wreaks havoc with your digestion, and destroys your enjoyment of your meal.

If you have the desire to eliminate C.R.A.P. from your diet, please refer to my post on caffeine, “Reducing the Buzz,” for the concept of making change over a period of time. Choose one item, say sugar, and over a week or two decrease your consumption of it. You’d be surprised where sugar hides. For example, any ingredient that ends in “-ose” is sugar.  After you’re off sugar, then, move on to eliminating the other three.

Once you begin to make such changes, you realize you have new-found energy, and you might, for example, begin to start walking. Since you like how you feel, you could find yourself adding some light jogging to your routine. What’s next after this? Consider the possibilities. Remember, each variation creates beneficial results resonating with all areas of your life.

See, my eating suggestions didn’t include counting calories or needless deprivation.  All I ask is for you to start taking time to eat your meals, have them in a relaxing environment, and to start removing C.R.A.P. from your diet.

These three steps will help you on your path to a healthier you.

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