In our busy lives fast food and eating on the run is such a common and accepted behaviour. We consider food as the fuel to keep us going in a similar way we fill up our car to keep it running.
Yet our bodies and our relationship to food is substantially more complicated.
Food provides more than simply energy, but an array of vitamins and minerals that provide for function and building blocks of our body. Even if we were to devise a magic pill that contained all the nutrition that we require, it would be unsatisfactory as we have an emotional connection to food. This is because food provides more than just energy, function and structure. Food provides pleasure. We enjoy the taste of food. We have a pallet that is sensitive to various flavours and textures. We have social and cultural associations with eating.
Eating goes beyond nutrition.
When we eat quickly, on the run or distracted by other activities such as email or scrolling through Facebook, we aren’t acknowledging that we are eating. An awareness that we are eating is important as the process of digestion begins in the brain. Through being fully aware that we are eating we are stimulating the release of enzymes in our mouth and intestines, through what is termed the cephalic phase of digestion.
Further, if we gulp our food without chewing sufficiently we can put additional strain on our digestive system. Therefore, our fast eating culture not only results in nutritional deficiencies and less nourishing food choices, it also can exacerbate indigestion, reflux, gas, bloating and other gastrointestinal complaints.
So rather than gulping down your food or eating on the run, take the time to slow down, take a deep breath and try to be fully present with the experience of eating.
Use the experience of eating as an opportunity to be mindful.