Today’s topic is on chewing and digesting food!
How many times do we rush through a meal to get on with work, get to our next task, drop the kids off somewhere- or even eat while we are working? Or should I phrase it- when do we not do those things, and actually concentrate on eating as its own separate, sacred task? I had some classes on chewing this past week at the Ann Wigmore Institute, with some interesting info and perspectives that I wanted to share with you.
Dr. Ann Wigmore says that if we are not chewing our food well or concentrating on eating- while we are eating- we are wasting our time with food!
When we eat, we are releasing stored energy locked up in the plant food (which is hopefully what you are eating!) that transfers into our body through digestion and assimilation. The food literally becomes part of our organs and glands. But in order for that plant food to really nourish us, even if we are eating the healthiest and most organic plant food on the planet, we have to be sure we are digesting it properly. This is not a mechanical task that always turns out the same no matter what- because it involves our total being, our state of mind, emotions and environment. Below are some ideas to help make sure you are optimizing your digestion:
1. Chew chew chew– the theme of Ann Wigmore. Even if you drink Green Juice, or drink Green Smoothies, you should chew your food so it mixes well with your saliva to aid the digestive process! Solid food like salads should be chewed 40-100 times. I always ignored this popular adage :) but it is amazing how much saliva you really do produce when you practice it! In one class we listened to music where every 60 seconds a bell would ring and that would signify to swallow. So it forced us to be conscious of chewing for 60 seconds, which pulverized the food into liquidity.
When you chew this well, it is amazing how full you get on way less food! Swallowing chunks of foods is EXTREMELY harmful for the body, which has to waste copious amounts of energy and additional enzymes to then break it down. Thoroughly chewing your food will help reduce bloating and discomfort. If you are a fast eater now is the time to change your ways, for your own sake!
2. Prepare the body for eating. You eat with your whole body and your brain. So start by being totally relaxed. Take some deep breaths if that helps. Relax your jaw (most of us clench) and even say the vowels first to fully loosen up the muscles in the face. Move your hands to your stomach to prepare it to receive food. This also puts us mentally in touch with our digestive organs and we become more connected to our body. Smell your food first before eating it, and really look at it. Hopefully it will be vibrant and beautiful!
3. Be conscious of your food in every way before you start eating it. Where did it come from? How was it grown? Who were the people that grew it? Under what conditions did it grow? When I was eating Energy Soup I started really thinking about the sunflower sprouts that it contained, that grew in the greenhouse there. We had classes on growing them, and I saw how full of amazing, vibrant energy they were and how they turned their beautiful little heads towards the light. Like us! We want to always turn toward the Light!
So when we really think about our food, we become more grateful for it, and when we eat in a state of gratitude our food digests better and nourishes not only our bodies, but the emotional, mental and spiritual side of us. Food is energy, and energy affects us on all of these levels. There really is something to the idea of making food with love, and when someone makes something for you with love it does taste better! I always bless my food first.
I know, deep right! Quite a contrast to people that jam the food they just bought at the drive-through down their mouth as they race down the highway driving! I don’t think they have any clue as to how the food came from the factory farm to the slaughterhouse to their packaged container, or the suffering and pain that the animal might have endured that would very much transfer if you were to eat the animal’s carcass. Bad energy transfers also, which leads me to…
4. Don’t eat in a loud place! Clanking sounds and chairs and loud talking does not make for good digestion. If a place does not have peaceful energy, chances are that your food was made in a non-peaceful, rushed or agitated way as well. And I don’t want food with that energy in my body! If I sense that I won’t eat there. Many trendy New York restaurants are like that, so if I have a business meeting there or something with friends- I’ll just get something to drink. Don’t worry about what others think- the choices you make affect YOUR body.
5. Don’t eat if you are angry, sad, agitated or stressed out. Your body will not assimilate the food in a good way! It really is better not to eat in these conditions- just wait or put it off!
6. Don’t work, watch TV or read while you are eating. Your attention is diverted from the process of digestion, and you will not take in the food in the same way. Talking should be limited. This is really hard, as eating and socializing have been very much integrated into our culture. I too often eat with others. I try to concentrate on my food when I’m actually chewing and swallowing, then I’ll put down my fork and talk for a minute- then go back to eating, so on and so forth.
I hope that these ideas are helpful to you in promoting your digestion. Eating is a powerful and sacred ceremony of life that must be respected.
Coconut keeper and lover!