By Christine M. Okezie, CHHC, Natural Foods Chef
For fast-acting relief, try slowing down. ~Lily Tomlin
Most conventional nutritionists will tell you that good nutrition is as simple as eating the right food. While this is true, what we eat is key, it’s really only half of the equation Who we are as eaters is the other half of the story and understanding this gives you some powerful tools to reclaim your health. How we feel, what we believe, our levels of stress and relaxation have a very real and scientific effect on our nutritional metabolism and weight. It turns out that recent advances in mind-body science are validating what ancient traditions have known forever – that the mind and body exist on a continuum and powerfully affect one another.
In this vein, one of the first questions I love to ask my clients is “Are you a Fast Eater, Moderate Eater or Slow Eater?” The answer for most if they’re struggling with excess weight, digestive problems, or blood sugar problems is almost always “Fast”.
Because Fast Eating often means Fast Living meaning we rush through life at a super hectic pace, always feeling like there’s never enough time and consequently we scarf food down our throats as quickly as possible – leading to overeating, mindless eating and a lack of enjoyment of our food. Notice how when we speed through life, always busy, busy, busy, we get disconnected from our bodies, we lose time and we can feel that no matter how much we get done, we feel like its never enough – we can be left feeling hungry and that hunger can twist into strange urges and unwanted habits around food.
Late night eating skipped meals, binge eating and sugar cravings can creep in as we live more and more out of balance with our natural rhythm.
When we rush through life, we create a physiologic stress response in the body which means we generate more insulin and cortisol, two hormones that have the unwanted effect of telling the body to store weight, eat more food, shut down digestion and slow down calorie burning. Can you recall what happens when you eat during anxiety or stress? Most folks report heartburn, bloating and digestive upset. We create similar stress chemistry in the body when we carry around a lot of self-imposed stress like negative self-talk, judgment, poor body image or even unexpressed emotion and desires. In other words, you could be following the best weight loss plan ever, but if you’re living in daily low-level chronic stress, the power of your mind is actually limiting the weight loss of your body.
I understand that Life doesn’t slow down but I’m simply suggesting we can choose not to rush through it. Slowing down is a conscious choice, but not always an easy one. I am continually working on this myself because I recognize the benefits are just priceless. When we Slow Down as Eaters we invite more of a Relaxation response in the body, which is the optimum state of digestion, assimilation and calorie burning.
When we Relax into our life, we are able to tune in to our amazing body wisdom and get in touch with naturally regulated hunger and fullness signals. When we Get Slow, we are more likely to feel connected and in control of our life, receive more pleasure in all we’re doing and have greater appreciation for our blessings. When we can do this we can start to feel more abundant and cultivate the motivation often lacking to prioritize our self-care and personal investment.
Here are 5 Simple Tips to Get Slow and Start to Reclaim Your Health:
1. Be Awake at Your Plate. Take a few moments to smell, see and chew each bite. Savor the flavors and allow yourself to be simply nourished. Our brains
need this key nutritional step to keep us in balance. You’ll notice how eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the
food taste better.
2. Breathe – – Did you know that you can change your physiological state from one of stress to that of Relaxation instantly just be taking a few deep inhales and exhales. When you find yourself speeding up, breathe and really feel the air coming in and the stress going out. Fully focusing on your breath brings you back into your body and feeling more centered.
3. Trust the Universe – You don’t have to be particularly religious to do this. You just have to take a moment to notice all the simple beauty and good around you. Find inspiration and hope in the happiness that surrounds you. Appreciate that there is a divine wisdom in all that comes into your life and sometimes you cannot control things. When you start to Love What Is – you relax into uncertainty and allow for higher consciousness.
4. Be Present – It’s not just enough to slow down. You actually need to be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment, That means when you find your mind
chattering about the something you need to do, or something that already happened or something that might happen, gently bring yourself back to the present. Notice your actions, your environment, the people around you, your breathing, how your sitting or moving.
5. Find Joy in Each Day – There is a lot of joy in each day; you just need to look for it. The hysterical laughter of children playing? Joy. Falling asleep to the sound
of a gentle rain? Wonderful. A complement on a job well-done? Excellent. A simple home cooked meal? Awesome. There are simply beautiful things happening every day. Just open your eyes.