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Nutrition
6 SIMPLE THINGS ABOUT MINDFUL EATING

How to get the best from what you eat

04 Apr 2019
The abundance of food porn spawned by social media is a symptom of our insatiable appetite for distraction.

It’s not food we’re after, but novelty and entertainment. (It’s why clickbait works so well.)

“Mindfulness” was originally coined to make us aware of how our thoughts can run away from us and take on a life of their own by continually feeding on our attention.

In this way, we’re removed from being in the current moment, or reality – and from our breakfast, lunch and dinner.

However, “mindfulness” is now a growth industry that includes “mindful eating”. The concept of “mindful eating” is troublesome, because eating is a physical activity, not a mental one.

Our digestive process happens without us needing to tell our bodies what to do with the food we eat. (When was the last time you asked your pancreas to release more insulin? Or your liver to mop up excess blood sugar by storing it as glycogen?) The cellular intelligence of our bodies far exceeds the mentalisations of “mindfulness”.

What used to be a simple act of feeding ourselves is now wrapped up in layers of rules and instructions, like plastic packaging. It’s enough to cause anxiety and indigestion.

So we’ve boiled down all that mindfulness for you, right here:

1 Eat
Make it an occasion. Set aside time for it. Eat for nourishment rather than convenience. Don’t multitask at the dining table or office desk.

2 Sit down
Your stomach receives food in a more relaxed position when you’re off your feet. It goes down more easily.

3 Set aside the gadgets
Try not to Instagram your meal. “Social media” feeds are designed to excite compulsive and reactive behaviour. Redirect the otherwise lost time and attention to savour your food.

4 No need for speed
Eating in a rush primes your sympathetic nervous system for a stressful situation and directs blood away from the digestive organs, towards the muscles tasked with your fight or flight response. Result: cramps and indigestion.

5 Chew, then swallow
Digestion begins in the mouth, which secretes the starch-busting enzyme ptyalin. You’ll feel better the end of the meal without the need for anti-gastric pills.

6 Say thanks
For the everyday miracle of the earth’s ecosystem and the plants and animals we consume to stay alive. And for the people who rear, harvest and cook our food, and those who serve it to us.