Five ways I’ve changed my habits around eating

By Rachel Saum

Since my stay at Hale Pule, I have restructured many of the ways that I cook and eat my meals. The practices I learned have brought me back to a conscious awareness that the nourishment that I put in my body is sacred. With food at the core of my health, daily routines and so many social and cultural events, it’s no surprise that even a few small changes have impacted my life so greatly. Through the use of these practices, I have moved toward a healthier relationship with food – overeating less, savoring flavors more and tuning into my body’s signals to boost health and vitality.

Here’s what has changed about my meals since I left Hale Pule:

  1. I sit down. I wasn’t aware how often I ate standing up until my stay at Hale Pule. Whether I was standing at the kitchen counter, walking around the house or getting up to multitask between bites, I used to be incredibly distracted during mealtimes. In a modern life of constant busyness, it is easy to ignore this first step, but by simply committing to sitting down for the duration of your meal, you can bring a new level of mindfulness to your meals.

  2. I give thanks. Before I take my first bite, I take a moment to ground myself, take a deep breath and give thanks for the food before me. I like to say a prayer, closing my eyes and allowing my wandering thoughts to dissipate. However you choose to do it, bring yourself into the present moment before beginning your meal to show gratitude for all that went into bringing you nourishment.

  3. I set down my utensil after each bite. This really allows me to taste what is in my mouth and chew it before thinking of the next bite to come. By setting down my spoon, I can relax my body and look up from my bowl, slowing down and enjoying the entire process of the meal.

  4. I chew, chew, chew. Digestion begins in the mouth, so all that you can do to aid in the beginning of this process will be beneficial for overall digestive health. Some people like to count the number of chews per bite, so go ahead if this helps you to establish the practice. I focus on chewing my food until it is liquid to support proper digestion.

  5. I listen for “the burp.” Provided that you have given your digestion a proper rest (at least two hours after eating any other meals/snacks), your body will give you this little signal as a sign of when to stop eating. It might be very subtle or it might be a little louder, but it will come when you begin to pay attention. This burp is the sign that digestion has begun in the stomach. When you eat beyond this point, digestion is disturbed and cannot properly function. In social settings, this is by far the hardest for me to be attentive to – our culture of constant snacking, drawn-out meals (think appetizer, entree, dessert) and encouragement to overeat until you’re stuffed is not conducive to such awareness. However, my energy, digestion and health are much improved in so many ways when I listen for this natural sign from my body.

These simple habits have changed the way that I eat, and with practice they will come naturally to you, too.  By creating a new relationship with food, I am happier, healthier and freer after each meal.

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