Awareness in action is what makes life tasteful. If we only cultivated this ability a bit more we would live our lives much happier and healthier says Food and Nutrition Expert Anu Paavola.
Awareness means to stay in the present, enjoy the moment in all its flavours. When awareness is lost we either worry about the future or delve in to the past. Or, we’re multitasking, like watching TV whilst eating.
What’s wrong with multitasking?
It messes with your concentration! Things are best done with full awareness, especially eating. What’s wrong about TV dinners is that the television takes priority. It takes priority from what should be one of the most important things in our lives. Instead, we have started considering eating as something secondary, something we can do whilst carrying out work by the computer, on the go and whilst driving.
The idea that food is a commodity of second order has had tremendous consequences on our health. Obesity, late onset diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers are directly related to faulty eating habits. If we only sat down and ate with awareness we would experience a drastic drop in the occurrences of these conditions.
So why is it bad to concentrate on something else whilst eating?
It is because our brains, when engaged in eating prevent us from sending food down without proper chewing. The process of chewing becomes much longer and this has amazing benefits in terms of digestion.
When our minds are on the TV screen the food is able to pass down to the stomach only after two bites. Incompletely chewed food is very hard to digest and causes bloating, gas, acidity and other digestive issues. But, if we chew properly the stomach and the enzymes in it are able to process the well-chewed bulk easily. Why? Because of the mechanical break down and mixing of saliva. Saliva has enzymes that are necessary to digest carbohydrates. Most digestive problems with bread and wheat products are due to not chewing properly and not mixing enough saliva in them. Gluten is a protein which is hard to digest and if it bypasses the first phase of digestion i.e. chewing, it becomes even harder, if not impossible to digest.
Have you ever tried eating with your eyes closed?
To prove I’m right about chewing and eating with awareness, try eating with your eyes closed. This way the brain is directed to survey the full eating process. You’ll notice that it is virtually impossible to send food down without it being well chewed. You will also notice that you eat less. Proper chewing makes you feel satisfied faster. Also, when the brain monitors how much volume and nutrients go down it will turn your appetite off when you’ve had enough. Even if you had the tastiest food on your plate you just don’t have the taste sensation anymore to enjoy it. Try this trick and see what the right consistency of the food should be and what is the ideal portion size for you.
Every process that starts well is easy. When the foundations are laid well you need less effort for the rest. So it is with digestion as well. If you chew properly you should be able to avoid overeating, make sure you absorb all the nutrients and eliminate the waste in a satisfying manner. Once this is happening you notice not only that you are physically healthier but also, you enjoy higher levels of concentration and awareness.
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Anu Paavola is a Ayurvedic expert and owner of Jivita Ayurveda. She is a qualified ayurvedic practitioner (B.SC Hons, MAPA) and a yoga teacher. Find out more www.jivitaayurveda.com