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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mindful Eating

Self reflection and control are both inherent parts of the martial arts. Qualities that we often hope will become so ingrained during our dojo experience that they can not help but spill out into the rest of our lives. One place that such qualities should be welcomed is the dinner table. Here I will give you three eating habits that will help you; keep your new years resolution, get closer to dropping that extra 5kg, burn energy more efficiently, distress and potentially much more.

Our first habit is to simply drink a tall glass of water before every meal. Many people mistakenly eat when in fact they are actually thirsty. Having at least one glass of water with your meal will help you avoid over eating. Water also aids in digestion. Foods that are not water rich need fluids to encourage optimal absorption.

You mother was probably right to tell you not to fill up on milk at the dinner table but never feel like you cant have another glass of water. There is a lot of debate as to how much water we should consume in a day. Many try to propagate or challenge the old 8 glasses a day. I simply stick to my grandmother’s old saying “pee clear.”

Our second habit is chewing. I used to be an incredibly slow eater and was some times left to finish dinner alone. This may have encouraged me to hurry my eating. This possibly contributed to me being over weight between grades 4 and 8. I am now trying to learn to chew moreslowly and though it can be difficult it is also very enjoyable.

You should chew each bite for at least 20 – 30 chews especially when eating heavier foods such as bread and meat. Taking time to chew your food can help with digestion and absorption, enrich the flavor of your food, and help combat stress. This practice could be particularly helpful for those who suffer from; over eater eating, IBS, heartburn and anxiety. It will also likely help you loose weight, when is the last time you looked across the table and thought “look at that fat cow, she/he eats like a bird.”

Finally stop gorging and remember “Hara Hachi Bu”「腹八分」. This is a Japanese saying which I believe can be traced back to Buddhist practices, how ever I can not seem to find the source. I am not a Buddhist however if you have a source please let me know. It means to only eat until you are 80% full. Perhaps an idea that should be expanded into many other realms of our lives as we look onto a world of extreme overconsumption crippling under failing economic structures.

Any ways this post is not supposed to be so blatantly political, though I would argue that everything is inherently political I will now digress back to our main topic “Three habits (practices) for healthier (mindful) eating.” Each of the habits listed above, drinking a tall glass of water before eating, chewing slowly and thoroughly and Hara Hachi Bu (eating until you are only 80% full) will not only help aid you in weight loss they may also help you alleviate stress, better enjoy your life and food and so much more.

Though these habits seem simple they can difficult to implement especially if you have developed apposing habits. For my self remembering to chew, chew, chew… can be tiresome and easy to forget however I keep coming back to trying to build this practice into a habit. I had almost forgotten my goal when I was reminded to get back on track the other day while listening to an episode of Tokyo Pod Cast. Like many nutritional tips it is hard to prove any one thing actually works as most studies are based on animals, more often then not mice, and correlative studies but I can tell you none of these tips will hurt you. So give it a try and remember “theproof is in the pudding.”

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