Mindful Eating for Optimal Digestion and Wellness

Mindful Eating for Optimal Digestion and Wellness

Did you know that your environment, stress levels, mood, and even who’s around while you’re eating can affect your digestion?  In Ayurveda (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge – the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing), there is a traditional saying that states that when your agni, or “digestive fire” is strong, you can turn poison into nectar, but if your agni is weak, you can turn nectar into poison.  In other words, your body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients depends on a number of factors outside of how healthy the food is that you’re eating.  Of course using wisdom in your food choices is a part of eating mindfully.  In addition, considering other factors will affect whether your ability to digest food is optimal.  You may already be feeding your body with healthy and nourishing foods, but if you often feel low energy, bloated, and not well, there may be underlying issues connected to your digestion.  Healthy and mindful eating can help to restore your body’s digestion, and bring it back into it’s natural state of balance and wellness.

Consider these suggestions for creating a peaceful atmosphere and energy around mealtime, to support how your food breaks down, and nurture your health:

Tune into how you’re feeling before you start eating…

Heightened states of emotion such as anger, stress, sadness, or feeling rushed, trigger a “fight or flight” response in your body and as a result, your digestion takes a backseat to your emotions and does not function optimally.  When digestion starts to shut down, inflammation of the gastrointestinal system can start to occur, which makes you more susceptible to infection, increases the acidity in your stomach causing indigestion, and can cause your colon to react in a negative way.  On the other hand, being in a pleasant head space allows you to be mindful about what you’re getting ready to eat, making you more likely to enjoy and savor your meal, and support healthy breakdown of food.

Give gratitude…

For many people, saying a little prayer or blessing over the meal is an important part of the eating experience.  Blessing your food is not only a transcendent act, but it can also affect changes in your physiological readiness for eating.  Molecular and physiological evidence also shows that blessing food causes physical effects – the vibrations carried out by your words causes changes to the structure and energy state of the food itself.  So before you start to eat, pause to acknowledge all that went into you being able to enjoy your meal – be it mother Earth, the farmers, the chef’s, your resources, or whom you’re sharing your meal with.

Every now and then, practice eating in silence…

One of my favorite things about eating is sharing meals with loved ones, no doubt about it!  But every now and then, enjoying a meal in silence and purposefully paying attention to what you’re eating can help you to fully appreciate the experience – the flavor, the consistency, the taste, the smell.  In doing so, you can be fully present, enjoy your food, savor every bite, and provide nourishment and fuel to your body AND soul.

Honor your appetite and listen to your body cues…

Eat when you’re physically hungry, and stop eating when you’re physically satisfied.  Don’t wait until you feel like you’re starving to eat, which can cause overeating.  And if you start to feel full and still have food on your plate, save the rest for later.  Leftovers are a beautiful thing!

Choose food for both enjoyment and nourishment…

Eating healthy isn’t about strict dietary limitations or depriving yourself of the foods that you love!  It’s about how the food supports you feeling good, having an abundance of energy, stabilizing your mood, and looking amazing.  Get creative with your meals, try new recipes, and plan, plan, plan!  As personal chef and owner of LA based ‘Marlena Cooks’ boutique meal planning company Marlena Attinasi says, “Eating healthy only works if you love the food you are eating!”  Choose a diet that’s as good for your body as it is for your mind.

Eat with the intention of caring for yourself…

I don’t know about you, but eating is a very pleasurable experience for me.  When I eat healthy and well, I feel healthy and well.  Notice how your food makes you feel, and increase your awareness of your relationship with food. During mealtime, focus your awareness on the present moment, and move away from any eating habit that is unsatisfying or harmful to your overall health and well-being.  Your body will thank you for it.

xoxo, Naima Woodson, Beachbum Wisdom

Follow my journey @beachbumwisdom

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1 Comment

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    Orlando May 19, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Loved the post! Will definitely take heed to it. Thank you!

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