There’s a saying that you can pour the purest golden nectar into a chalice, but if the cup is dirty on the inside, then the quality of the nectar is irrelevant.
When it comes to food and your body, the same is true. You can eat the freshest, high-quality whole foods but if your digestive system is not in good shape, then your ability to process and assimilate the nutrients from your food is severely compromised. This is a key reason why Ayurveda and most other healing systems place such a strong focus on creating and maintaining a healthy gut.
This week, as many people focus on making changes to what they are eating, I am offering a five-part series on simple ways to boost your digestive capacity so that you can more optimally process the healthy foods you are consuming.
Part 2: Slow Down
Today’s tip sounds simple but can be quite hard to enact: slow down while you eat.
The key here is to chew each bite thoroughly. Our mouths are not just receptacles for receiving food, but also the starting place for the digestive process. When we chew food well, we break down cell walls and prepare foods for the journey ahead, where they get broken down even more. As we chew our food, we mix it with our saliva, which is full of enzymes that facilitate digestion. In other words, the more we chew, the more primed our food is to be broken down and absorbed thoroughly.
If you’re prone to eating fast, it can be hard to slow down. The best way to put this tip into action is by committing to putting down your fork/spoon (or setting down handheld foods) between bites. Many of us have what I call “next bite syndrome,” where we are constantly preparing our next bite on our eating utensil before we’ve even chewed the food in our mouth. When we do this, we are more likely to plop the next bite in before we’ve thoroughly swallowed the previous bite.
If you practice slowing down regularly, you may just find you enjoy your food more too. When we eat mindfully, we have greater opportunity to tune into the unique flavors and textures of our food.
Give it a try at your next meal. And of course, be compassionate with yourself…it’s okay if you fall into normal habits, just commit to slowing down with the next bite. Each bite is a new opportunity to slow down and be mindful.