There is plenty of information about what to eat, much debate has happened, and a lot of virtual spears have been broken on different types of food, good or bad, good and bad and then good again for our health. So here I will only suggest that your answer to the question what will depend on your answers to the following:
- Is my food psychologically comfortable?
- Is my food nutritionally varied and rich?
If you can answer ’yes’ to both of these questions, you are on the right track.
Much more rarely we hear questions: why, how, when, and where, – though it doesn’t make them less important.
Why?What a silly question… it looks to be at first. Of course, we eat to live. But do we? ‘We eat to live, but we don’t live to eat’, the ancient Romans used to say. The fact they needed to clarify this indicates that the issue of eating getting out of control was as pressing two thousand years ago as it is now (in the Western hemisphere). Do we eat to satisfy hunger? Or do we eat out of boredom? Or because others eat around us? Do we hope that eating will reduce stress? Or quench our thirst?Why do we want to take X, put it into our mouth and make several chewing movements before ordering our throat muscles to contract and swallow saliva-induced bits of this said X? Every time we open our mouth, can we pause and ask ourselves ‘why?’
How?This simple ‘why?’ brings us to its fellow question ‘how?’. In fact, it starts the ‘how’. It helps us notice and noticing starts digestion. Yes-yes, digestion starts well before we put anything into our mouths – just recall those Pavlov’s dogs. So noticing, observing, understanding are the actions to precede chewing. Seeing, but also smelling and assessing texture are all parts of a healthy digestion process. Eating mindfully and carefully makes eating joy.
When?Our lives become more unpredictable, we try to be flexible around our work and personal commitments, which are being stretched with the omnipresence of technology in our lives. We are constantly bombarded with information via emails, texts, WhatsApp and then, of course, there are social media platforms where we need to be there and then. All this makes our physical presence and physical activities step back and work around our virtual lives. Then, of course, we have our children, our parents, or our partners to look after (and more often than not – all of them at once) – with their own agendas.
Our meals take lesser priority as a rule. Lunches are most susceptible to abuse but, increasingly, so are dinners and even breakfasts. We also keep having snacks at random times. But our bodies and our minds don’t like that, they like certainty, they want to know when exactly they will be fuelled. And our fuel is food, which needs to get to us at regular intervals – this will eliminate a lot of underlying stress, which, in turn, will keep our immune system more focussed on more important issues. Routines might sound boring, but they lay the foundation for a stress-free and joyful life.
Where?As one of the most important processes our body is involved in, digestion needs comfortable space assigned to it. It requires as much of the body and mind’s attention as possible and thus should take place in the most conducive environment. For most it will be their dining table, for some it will be sitting on the floor cushions at a low table. Whatever your arrangements are, they should provide as relaxing and peaceful an atmosphere as possible.
Join me on Sunday 14th March to discuss how these questions can be answered in real life. Join the Besties Wellness Month in the ‘Spaghetti Besties’ Group on Facebook.