Dining is social. Food provides people with a reason to gather together, share conversation and grow closer. At the same time, nutrition is a vital aspect of our health. How we fuel our body dramatically affects how we feel and what are bodies are capable of. Meals are an intricate part of our social and physical health, which makes hasty gobbling problematic. Inhaling dinner so unbelievably fast, it’s impossible to appreciate.
When days are short and time is tight, it is easy to feel like savoring cuisine is a luxury. But savoring food is more than a comfort. It’s part of healthy eating. Learning how to slowly appreciate food makes meals more enjoyable, while managing weight and absorbing more nutrients.
Mealtimes are meant to be a break, a pause. It is critical to set times during the day to slow down and simply enjoy food. Learning how to make meals a time of rest transforms how we look at food. It is common for distractions to join us at the table. Binging in front of the TV, scrolling through Facebook, texting — are all distractions that lead to less mindful eating. Reine van der Wal of Radboud University and Nijmegen and Lotte Van Dillen of Leiden University suggest mental work (even mindlessly watching Netflix) diminishes the taste of food. When we’re distracted our food becomes less enjoyable; it’s no longer the focus. Savoring food is not only about eating slowly, it’s also about attentiveness. Appreciating meals makes them more enjoyable.
Feeling full has as much to do with the brain as it does the stomach, according to Harvard Health contributor Ann MacDonald. To feel satisfied, the brain must know the stomach is full. A hormonal signal is released to the brain as digested food moves to the small intestine. Most nutritionists claim it takes the brain 20 minutes to comprehend it’s full. Studies show that eating more slowly decreases food consumption but increases satiety in healthy women, while eating quickly until full triples the risk of becoming overweight. Ensure your brain has enough time to process your food consumption. Making meals a social time will slow your pace. People naturally eat slower when engaged in conversation.
Absorb More Nutrients and Energy
Eating is how we absorb nutrients and energy. Chewing our food more thoroughly allows us to absorb more nutrients. The body can process smaller food particles more quickly, according to Dr. Richard Mattes of Purdue University. Small food particles are better for the intestines, making digested food easier to pass through. This may prevent upset stomach. Food is enjoyable, social but above all else it fuels the body. Remaining conscious of food’s purpose is critical for maintaining a healthy diet and eating habits.
Taking time to savor meals allows people to be more mindful of how and what they consume. Eating is a time to give thanks, to honor food accessibility, to compliment the chefs (even if it’s yourself).
Let’s savor rather than devour. Mindful dining helps us achieve greater peace in mind and body.
How do you appreciate nutrition? —Alexandra