I also believe in making every meal a moment. And it’s a key component in how I coach my clients — understanding that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Because having a green smoothie and kale salad everyday is great, but not when we’re gulping them down in the car or at our desk in front of a pile of unanswered emails.
Digestion is a complex process that functions best when we’re calm and relaxed — when we take a few deep breaths, look at our food, smell it and truly taste each bite. If we’re stressed, anxious and distracted, we’re not allowing our body to properly break down our meal — which not only leads to less nutrient absorption, but also increased digestive distress, gas and bloating. Not fun!
So, how do I personally make mealtime more mindful? Here are a few insights and ideas to get you started:
Breakfast: My morning coffee ritual is non-negotiable. I’ll get up earlier if I have to — just to sit and be with my thoughts (no phone!) for five minutes while I sip from my favorite mug. If I’m having a smoothie later, I always make sure to CHEW it. So often we gulp them down and end up with a stomachache because we didn’t take the time to prime our digestion and let it know food was coming.
Lunch: When it’s time to break out my salad, I take a few deep breaths and close my laptop first. Without the distractions, you’ll be surprised and how much chewing it actually takes to break down those raw, fibrous veggies. For clients, I’ll tell them to set a timer and consciously take 10 minutes from first bite to last bite.
Dinner: Growing up, my mom was always adamant about the "no TV at dinner" rule, and now I uphold the policy in my own home. My husband and I also say a simple grace as a way to pause and reflect on the day — to shift the momentum, slow down and reconnect with both each other and our food.
It took me a while to put these practices consistently into place. My advice is to be kind to yourself and pick one meal each day as a starting point. Turn off your phone, computer and TV for a good five minutes. Then pause, take a few deep breaths, be thankful for the nourishing food you’re about to eat and chew — putting your fork down between bites helps. Try it out, then head over to @erinparekh_ and message me how you felt afterwards or share in comments below.