Conscious Eating: How do you treat your body and food?
Wash your hands:
We are constantly touching phones, computers, our faces, shaking hands, etc and this is a good breeding time for bacteria and microbes. It's important to observe good hygiene whether you eat with your hands or with cutlery. Eat without distractions and in a calm environment. This means, no TV, no phones and no heated discussions around the table either. Your emotions have a direct effect on your appetite and digestion. In fact, the best way to eat is actually in silence while placing all your love and awareness on your food. Engage all your senses in eating as the food is being converted into information and essential energy for the body, so allow your brain to fully register the process of digestion. Eat slowly, not too fast nor too slow. Chew at least 32 times. This ensures that your saliva helps to break down your food well thus aiding in the process of digestion. Our mouths are the starting point for the digestion process, so take smaller mouthfuls. In Ayurveda, they say that you should eat only 70% of your stomach's capacity. The remaining 30% should be left empty for the liquids and space and also for the disdain process to take place.
Sit down and eat:
We live in a fast-paced environment where everyone always seems to be in a hurry and fast food is one of the biggest industries catering to this need. This is quite harmful to our health and systems. Step away from your computers, and desks, do not eat while you are standing, driving or walking. Do not multitask and eat. Sitting down ensures that your stomach is in a relaxed state. In most Asian cultures, we actually choose to sit on the floor and if possible, preferably in a cross-legged position, as this aids the blood flow to the abdomen and improves digestion. Bending forward slightly to eat from the plate increases the secretion of stomach acids and engages the abdominal muscles, it also prevents overconsumption of food as the upper part of the stomach naturally gets compressed, reducing our capacity to overeat.
Eat to live but don’t live to eat:
Be mindful of cravings and indulgences. How often do we grab breakfast, lunch or dinner just because it’s time to eat? Are we really hungry at those times or is it just programming that causes us to think that we are hungry, or is it because our friends or family are eating? In Ayurveda, a key rule to eating is to do so only when you are hungry. If you don’t feel hungry, it means that your digestive enzymes are not ready to eat and hence will not process your food properly. Eat only when your previous meal has finished its digestive process. This takes at least four hours. If the previous meal is still being digested then it confuses your system and the half-digested food gets mixed with new food leading to the formation of toxins within the system.
Avoid exercising or taking a bath after your meals as the body is focused on digesting your food, so it gets confused if it needs to focus its energy on other processes. Do not sleep immediately after eating as the process of digestion is interrupted if you sleep leaving the food undigested. Keep at least 3 hours between when you consume meals and sleep time.
Your digestion depends on your emotional state of mind as well, listen to your body, and have an awareness of your nutritional requirements so that you can modify your diet according to your needs. Engage all your senses in the process of eating. What does your meal look like? Is it appealing and appetising? Take the time to notice the colours, textures and feel the flavours. What pleasant aromas are coming from the food? Food smells stimulate salivation immediately, so take a moment to enhance the initial stage of digestion in your mouth itself. You can even explore the sense of sound to notice the texture, is it slurpy, crunchy or chewy?
In many parts of the East, we eat with our hands. By doing so, we are directly sending signals to our body about the temperature and textures of the food even before we raise it into our mouths. We have the energy of the five elements at our fingertips, and so we are drawing this collective energy into every morsel
Conscious eating involves a lot of slowing down and the more that we are able to do this, the more we will notice a difference in the satisfaction of our meals, the reduction of food cravings and the healthier will be our digestive process and gut. Eating consciously can be thought of as another way of practising and cultivating awareness and thus taking meditation into our day to day life.
Eating greens will not only give you some scientific benefits but there are also many other benefits. Look at the green nature around you, look and realize, everything that is green now will be faded later and die. Before it dies, nature perfectly allows and permits you to eat greens. Overall, there is acceptance, no one is stopping you. But if you want to eat an animal, nature will not allow it and the animal tries to escape or run away. So you should choose nature flow or the opposite of it? The truth is very simple, follow and respect the rules of nature.