We tend to be so conscious about WHAT to eat - fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, quality fats and proteins, sprouts, herbs etc. But HOW to eat is just as important, if not more.
You see, your body and your brain need to engage fully in the experience of eating so they can properly perform the heavy-duty task of digestion. If your brain is distracted or stressed it won’t communicate well with your digestive system and food won’t be properly digested, sitting on your stomach causing you problems like bloating, gas, lower energy levels and eventually getting stored as fat.
So, if the food is not well digested you will not absorb all the nutrients in the food - which means your body is not getting the nutrients it needs and there’s no point spending money on the best quality food if your body is not absorbing and getting the most it can from it.
Putting in practice the following tips will help you eat more intuitively, avoid overeating, loose weight and improve your digestion and energy levels.
1. Eat when you are hungry.
We are so used to snacking and picking at food all the time that we forget what hunger feels like. We also tend to eat for non-hunger reasons. Because food can make us happy instantly we tend to eat when we are overwhelmed, sad, stressed, anxious, bored, etc. If you eat when your body isn’t ready for food because its busy doing other tasks, that food won't be digested becoming sludge that weighs you down and gets stored as fat. To make sure your body is ready for food (fuel) wait until it signals you with hunger - the rumbly feeling in the stomach - then eat.
2. Eat without distractions.
Once you are ready to eat put away all distractions, plate your food and sit down somewhere comfortably. Enjoy your own company or whoever else is there, without a distracting TV, phone, laptop or book around. If your attention is somewhere else and you eat mindlessly, all too soon the meal is over and you are left feeling unsatisfied. Because you missed out on the experience of eating you may go for second servings even if you are no longer hungry.
3. Slow down, chew and savour.
Slow down and put your fork down after each mouthful (don’t worry no one will take your food away!). Enjoy each bite with your full attention - make it a meditation. If you love eating, give food the attention it deserves to fully enjoy and participate in the experience of eating by chewing and savouring the flavours, textures and aromas of your food.
4. Stop when you are no longer hungry.
It is easy to overeat, specially if you eat fast and mindlessly, but if you slow down, chew, savour and eat without distractions it’s easier to realise when your body has had enough. When you no longer feel physical hunger - when you no longer NEED more food (as opposed to WANT more food), stop eating - put the fork down and wait a few minutes (don’t worry, your food won't go anywhere :) If you still feel hungry after - eat more, otherwise - stop there. This is the “point of energy” where the body is refuelled and fully energised. Any more and it will weigh the body down making your body more fat and tired instead. Its OK to leave food on your plate if you are done, as Michael Pollan says “better to waste than to waist”.
5. FIND your own rhythms.
Who said we need 6 meals a day or to eat every certain hours? Just because some diet says 'eat 6 times a day' doesn't mean it will work for you. We all have different needs and rhythms. Our bodies get hungry at different times everyday - it depends on how much you ate the previous meal or previous night, how quickly that food gets digested, how quickly your body burns it, how active you are, etc - so its silly to think that some diet knows more than your own body. Instead of following someone else's schedule, find your own. By practicing step 1 - eat when you are hungry - you are listening to your own body's needs and eating when is right for you.