Eating with Intention

severtson_image_blog-tpHaley Severtson, Certified Herbalist

In a culture revolved around diets and cleanses, it is easy for people to become over consumed with the foods they are eating. Much time is spent worrying whether foods are good or bad, which leads down a path of unnecessary self-criticism, restricting and bingeing. We focus too much on what we should be eating instead of focusing on the sacredness of how we should be eating. When we appreciate a food choice and eat it with gratitude and non-judgment, we can begin to receive nourishment from all meals, regardless of our choices. Here is a look into how worrying about our foods affects our digestion:

Our digestion is controlled by our enteric nervous system, which communicates with our central nervous system. This system is considered to be our ‘second brain’. When our bodies are in a stress state, our digestion shuts down, constricting blood flow, stopping peristalsis and decreasing bile which helps break down food. When we eat our foods in a stressed state, digestive upset and other inflammatory responses can occur. This is why incorporating ways to be mindful can be very beneficial to our digestion and overall vitality.

One technique that is beneficial is prayer before meals. Prayer has been a traditional act before meals for thousands of years. A prayer can be a way for you to connect with a higher power, a way to say thank you for your food, or a simple mantra to help bring awareness to mealtime. The act of prayer puts our bodies into a parasympathetic state, which is optimal for digestion. It helps us to be mindful of our foods, and brings love and non-judgment to the choices we make. Such acts can be complimented by silent mealtime.

Eating our meals in silence helps to bring awareness to how our bodies are responding to our foods. When time is spent smelling, tasting, and embracing our meals, we are able to hear our body’s messages and signals, such as when we’re full and what we really want to eat. It is our chance to bond with the foods that are giving our bodies fuel to survive. Each food is alive and carries different energies and ways it will nourish the body. Being mindful of your food is another way of showing appreciation for all that gives you life.

Creating a sacred space for our meals helps us embrace the act of eating. Enjoy your meals, and do it wholeheartedly. By being mindful, we start to choose foods that serve our bodies, and we might see that foods we thought we loved are not serving us well. We may not always have access to the greatest quality foods and that is alright, for a meal served with love will still serve our bodies well. It is time to stop counting calories and start counting blessings.

Sources Cited:

Geneen Roth’s ‘Breaking Free From Emotional Eating’

Charles Eisenstein ‘The Yoga of Eating’

        


The information contained in this article is not a substitute for the medical care of a licensed healthcare professional, any health concerns should be discussed with your primary care provider.