Nourishing the Body Nourishes the Soul
The food we eat is important, but how we eat our food holds equal importance. If we want to maintain an optimal body weight, contributing to a healthy balanced lifestyle, than the manner in which we consume our daily intake matters. Research documents that people with sleep problems often have issues with weight gain. Let me help you understand why eating with awareness is important, and then - which may be more pivotal - guide you in those beginning steps to change your current habits and to truly nourish your body and soul.
Why do we want to eat with awareness? Imagine breakfast, lunch or dinner on the run - you are out the door with a toasted bagel smeared with cream cheese, or a turkey sandwich in hand, or (dare I say) a selection from a fast-food drive-through. All of these examples of eating on the run can lead to weight gain. Even if your food choice is healthy, eating without paying attention to what you are eating doesn’t give your body the proper signals (such as your saliva producing digestive enzymes) and you can end up with indigestion as well as not even remembering what you ate.
A clog in the works
According to Dr. Anthony Cichoke: “Poor digestion can do more than give you a stomach ache because digestion is the mechanism that makes your body work…a clog in the works may be only the tip of the iceberg, because poor digestion interferes with nutrient breakdown, absorption and metabolism; allows toxins to remain in the body and accumulate; and over stresses the body.” To sum it up, poor digestion is a synonym for poor nutrition. Even if you are eating well and avoiding processed foods, when your digestion isn’t working properly, your system isn’t able to absorb it. It is difficult to lose weight if you have poor digestion. Dr. Cichoke says, “Improper digestion is usually the cause of most weight problems. Poor digestion takes a lot out of your body, and makes it weak, leaving it more vulnerable to attacks from other sources.”
Make it a priority
How can we make our eating habits regular, relaxing and enjoyable? Does that sound too difficult to do in this day and age? Following are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Create a habitual time for eating your meals.
- Sit down and relax.
- Take a moment of quiet gratitude for your food before beginning your meal.
- Look at your food, notice how it tastes, chew and enjoy!
These simple ideas can be a very effective means to healthy habits, ensuring healthy balance. Then, take it one step further and include your family.
Families who eat together nourish body and soul
Food is meant to bring our bodies the healthy energy they need, but equally important, we need to nourish our emotional well-being. The demands of work schedules, children’s extra activities, and being too tired to deal with preparing a meal for the whole family are some reasons it may not be happening. But, if we stop and think about where it is we really want to spend our time and what is really important to us, we might just be inspired to make the extra effort to organize a regular evening family meal.
On a busy day (which is most days) mealtime can be the only time a family gets to spend together. Make the most of this precious time. Start with a small step. If you are not already eating together every night, take a weekend night and make it “family night,” reserving that time for dinner with the family. Plan a menu that appeals to everyone. Promote good manners. Keep the dinner conversations engaging. Stories of the day can lead to laughter and to a feeling of lightness that is helpful for mood and digestion. In my own family, sometimes you can almost see the tensions rising as we orchestrate the food, drink, and everyone’s sitting down. However, what an amazing oasis of calm rolls in after everyone has some food in their tummy and a little conversation.
Try this way of eating with awareness
The time and energy that you dedicate to these new suggestions can help you to create lasting, healthy habits, leading to optimal weight, restful sleep, and a balanced lifestyle for generations to come.
Beth wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Sleep Disorders.