We can eat the healthiest foods in the perfect amount, but if consumed in a state of anxious rushing, the physiological stress response will interfere with absorption of nutrients. So we end up wasting the potential of the quality food and, the possibility of pleasure.
Pleasure in our lives is not just a nice-to-have treat – it is an important component of health. We are genetically programmed to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Unfortunately many of us are rushing around so much we seldom make the time to connect with our bodies and feel the pleasure. This is so true when it comes to eating. We choose the best quality foods and we eat them in front of the computer, the television or in the car. That’s not health.
Nutritionist and author Marc David (The Slow Down Diet) suggests that many of us overeat because we are physiologically driven to do so when our meals are deficient in relaxation, time, pleasure, awareness and high quality food. David also reports that foods eaten while we are anxious and stressed can actually slow down our metabolism and make it easier for us to gain weight. When we choose to slow down and breathe while eating, we actually shortcut the physiological stress response and burn food more fully. When we slow down, we are more able to eat only to the “Point of Energy” and then walk away from the table with more energy then when we sat down to eat. Eating past this point will actually drain our energy.
Slowing down to eat sounds so simple to do – yet it really is quite radical in our culture. We eat in front of the computer, the television, in the car, with a book – but seldom just with ourselves. It requires practice and commitment, but here is a suggestion for a first start. Consider just taking the first 10 bites of each meal, with mindfulness.
The first 5 bites will even make a difference. Eventually you might want to try eating one meal a day with complete attention.
Eating mindfully is a daily practice for slowing down, tuning in and getting curious about our bodies and how we are really nurturing and nourishing ourselves.
A firm defence of quiet material pleasure is the only way
to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life – the Slow Foods International Manifesto