Eating Uses All of the Senses
Eating is a wonderfully sensual experience that captivates our senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and even sometimes hearing (“Ah, the sizzle of that steak – crispness of those crackers!”). No wonder food engages us so totally. All of our senses are involved. So let’s begin by making better use of our senses while eating, using the practice of eating mindfully.
Eating mindfully is nothing new. In a previous age it was referred to as “dining.” The image of “eating by candlelight” is wonderful! Taking time to savor the food, along with excellent company and conversation is truly healthful (not to mention rare in our culture). It also allows our digestive physiology to function properly.
Slow Down — Food Ahead!
For whatever reason, the Good Creator designed our eating mechanism to have relatively slow feedback. It takes nearly twenty minutes for our brains to receive messages that tell us we have eaten and may be beginning to feel full. Consider how we work against this design in our “fast-food” culture. It is “normal” for many of us to eat a meal in 5-10 minutes as we dash through part of our daily routine. This means that we consume a complete meal with almost no feedback from our body to tell us if it is enough, too much, etc. This eating practice makes it very easy to eat in excess of what the body needs. Is it any wonder that after consuming such a meal that about ten minutes later the body gets this message that says, “Whoa! I feel bloated! I ate too much!”
Eating slower — taking time to actually taste the food, to enjoy its texture and pleasant aroma — considering the color and presentation on your plate — setting the fork down between bites and actually chewing — conversing in pleasant conversation with those others who may be present — taking time to praise the Creator for the blessing of such a creation that provides such wonderful sustenance — is a wonderful experience that most of us rarely, or never, experience. Taking time to truly experience food allows our wonderfully created body to work within the design specifications of the Designer, as well as allowing us to actually taste our food. Think back — can you actually remember what you had for lunch today? And if you can, do you remember what it tasted like?
An amazing thing happens when we work with our body — It Works Better! If we intentionally eat slower, not only are we able to better chew and digest the food we eat, we are also able to notice that we are full before we over-consume! WOW! What a concept — to actually give our body time to provide feedback so we know when we have had enough to eat. The truth is most of us overeat for this very reason.
Here are some other tips related to eating that may help us better follow the design specifications of our body’s eating system.
Cool, Clear Water
When you feel hungry, drink a nice 8-10 ounce glass of water. Not soda pop. Not fruit juice. Not coffee. Water! Sometimes the “hunger” message is really an “I need water” message from the body. Get a drink and then wait at least 5-10 minutes. If you are still feeling “hungry” get something nutritious to eat.
The majority of adults in our country are slightly dehydrated simply from not drinking enough water. That old recommendation of 8-10 glasses of water a day is still good advice, and in the summer the amount should even be increased. How do you know if you are dehydrated? Don’t depend on feelings of “thirst” to tell you. By the time you actually feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Check the color of your urine. If it is clear, you are probably doing well, but it there is even a slight yellow color you are in need of more water, and if it is dark yellow, you are quite dehydrated.
Hungry? Are You Sure?
There are many other reasons why people eat when they are not truly hungry. Sometimes people are bored. Get up and go for a walk instead of heading for the kitchen or the candy machine. Even a 5-10 minute walk is a wonderful way to pep up your day, both physically and mentally, without resorting to snacking. Walking is also a great way to relieve stress! As the commercials on television say, “Just do it!”
You Are Wonderfully Made
Getting back in touch with your body is truly a gift that you give yourself. One of the ways we can each learn to better treat our body is to begin working within the guidelines of our Creator, mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. So remember to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalms 34:8, New Revised Standard Version), and “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians, 10:31, (New Revised Standard Version) Take care of your wonderfully created body, using it fully as it was designed, and doing it all for His glory. Blessings!
Remember to be good to you!
Copyright © 2013 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.
•Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.
Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary is a Reiki Master and a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.
Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site: www.GaryFlegal.com.