Re-wiring our approach to food
We are the only animal who has a concept of eating specific types of food at specific times of the day. So breakfast for example is often muesli, cereal, toast, maybe eggs. But other animals have no such concept of time when it comes to food.
You would never catch our closest relative the chimpanzee, foraging for a specific type of berry or fruit because he checked that it’s breakfast time. Much of our attitude to food is culturally learned through our parents, friends or from commercial marketing.
As an example, we have developed an attachment to so – called ‘convenience’ foods, convinced that we have NO TIME to eat. We rush, we gobble, and we snack. Being mindful about our food, understanding where it came from and then preparing and eating it properly, changes our whole attitude to it.
Our digestive system is a complex, intricate piece of machinery. When we work in harmony with it, we feel so much better. And this starts, quite literally, with how we eat our food.
Ideally we shouldn’t be stressed while we eat, because we stop secreting the stomach acids and enzymes that ease our food along the digestive tract. If you are stressed, try a few deep breaths before eating and focus on where you are (in the present) to help relax your body. Try and keep distractions like phones, TV and computers at bay while you eat.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors really appreciated their food, because they had to work for it. They stalked, climbed, swam and ran after it, while we lift it off a shelf and into a trolley.
We shouldn’t stop appreciating our food just because we haven’t wrestled it to the ground or scaled a cliff to pick it.
- Take a moment to see, smell and taste your food before you eat it.
- Ideally, allow yourself to salivate a bit (perhaps not too much, if you’re in public)!
- Then chew it, slowly, really well, because that helps your body to digest it properly.
- Allow yourself to experience delight in the process of eating.
This is the start of re-wiring our whole approach to one of the most basic human activities -eating our food.