Rule 8. Pause before eating
The pause before eating is the time between the moment you sit at the table and the moment you start eating. Such pause is very important for making ready for eating, reducing stress, increasing appetite, stimulating the brain phase of insulin secretion, improving taste and satiation, and stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. All these factors have a very positive effect on eating behavior and digestion. I can see often how impatiently people are eating and falling upon food. I used to be a such person also. But this is not a healthy eating behavior. If we want complex processes to work correctly and if we want to get pleasure from them, we have to get prepared. In fact, the secret of good sex is foreplay. The same is with food. If you fall upon food the moment you sit by the table, you lose a lot. Make food foreplay, and you will get more pleasure and satisfaction!
The problem of wiring into a meal appears when you have a long period of hunger before it or a high level of stress. Trying to calm hunger and stress, people use food to get rid of unpleasant feelings quickly. They line their stomachs to feel relaxed and quiet. But this can lead to overeating and worse assimilation of food.
We increasingly reduce the time for a meal and do not cook but buy food. This leads to the situation when we begin eating almost without a pause before it. This detail which can seem very unimportant has a noticeable effect on our digestion process.
The cephalic phase of digestion. The appearance and odor of tasty food stimulate the secretion of small quantities of insulin. Such preparation helps control appetite better and not to overeat.
Stress. A sharp switch from work to eating is undesirable. A pause before eating helps you get ready for the eating. In fact, the sympathetic system, which deals with stress, inhibits the secretion of digestive enzymes and reduces intestinal motility. The relaxation of the sympathetic system is associated with the activation of the parasympathetic system, which stimulates the secretion of saliva and other digestive fluids, stimulates intestinal motility, and improves blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract.
Mechanical overeating and mindfulness. A pause before eating reduces rush and an automatic response helps to leave negative emotions off the table, get more pleasure, and make a healthier choice of dishes.
BREAK: The appearance and odor of tasty food stimulate the secretion of small quantities of insulin. Such preparation helps control appetite better and not to overeat.
Appetite. According to popular wisdom, appetite comes with eating. The level of ghrelin affects the pleasure of eating and the amount of consumed food. The higher the appetite before eating, the easier it is for you to notice the moment of satiation. Satiation appears when hunger reduces. If you start eating without hunger you can mechanically overeat.
Improving the taste of food and the pleasure of eating. In one experiment, the scientists showed that a pause before eating was used for taking and posting pictures of meals, improved taste, and increased pleasure in 90% of the participants. The authors of the study believe that a pause before eating increases enjoyment. Therefore, keep waiting for a while and you will enhance the taste.
Satiety. If you start eating in a rush, don’t care what you eat, don't know anything about this food, and don’t think about its benefits and nutritional value, then such food satisfies hunger worse. In one study, the participants received a milkshake with the same calorie content, but with different labels (one indicated much lower calorie content and another bigger one). It turned out that the decrease in the hunger hormone after the cocktail depended on the label and not on the real calorie content. Thus, the psychological attitude towards satiety and the sufficiency of food really affects the level of the hunger hormone in the human blood.
Make a pause from two to five minutes before eating, look at the food, smell it, and think about why you need its energy, where this food came from, and what healthy and effective components it contains.
Time. The studies showed that in the first thirty seconds, the smell of food whets the appetite and the wish to eat high-calorie foods first. But after two or more minutes of smell analysis, the craving for high-calorie foods reduces and allows participants to make healthier food choices.
Consciousness. From the point of view of consciousness, gratitude is the most effective form of it, which reduces stress. We can thank those people who cultivated, caught, stored, transported, and cooked our today's food. We can thank the circumstances in which we can eat our food safely today and everything is good with us.
Analyzing food. Look at food closely. Focus on the energy that it gives you. How do you use it? Name all visual ingredients and odors. What is useful in each of them? How can this food help you achieve your goals? This approach will help you make the healthiest choice of food.
Communication. Talk about food. Thank the person who cooked it. You can say a toast (without alcohol): may this food give us the strength to finish today's project! Waiting and speaking, as in a restaurant, make food more delicious.
Are you ready for eating? Has your stress decreased? You can check it easily because under stress the production of saliva is suppressed and the oral cavity is dry. If at the sight of food you have a dry mouth, then you need to rest. If saliva appears, then you can eat!
Hot food. Too hot food and drinks with prolonged use damage the mucous membranes and increase the risk of burns and cancer of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. A sharp temperature change from hot to cold and back can damage the tooth enamel. Therefore, a pause before eating is good to allow food to cool; the safe temperature of food is 40 °C and below.
Cold water. Wash your hands (you can wash your face too) before eating. Cold water reduces stress and stimulates the tone of the vagus nerve. The high tone of the vagus contributes to better digestion.
Breathe. The breathing exercises help you calm down and relax. Several deep breaths with a slight expiration delay will help you. You can use a special application on your phone.
BREAK: Too hot food and drinks with prolonged use damage the mucous membranes and increase the risk of burns and cancer of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. A sharp temperature change from hot to cold and back can damage the tooth enamel. The safe temperature of food is 40 °C and below.
Respect the food. It is important to respect food! If we sit down at the table with the thought of not dying from this grass, we will get neither pleasure nor satiety. And if you perceive food as a source of energy, with appreciation, gratitude, and pleasure, then this will be useful for healthy eating behavior. And if you know how many vitamins, minerals, and useful substances are in a meal and how much energy is in it, then this knowledge and respect is transformed into satiety and pleasure. Think of food as a source of energy. Indeed, this is true: a few months ago, the energy in your broccoli's chemical bonds was the photons born in thermonuclear solar reactions! Know and respect food and it will reciprocate!
Ask yourself the right questions. Does this food enrich my diet? How hungry am I? Can a healthier alternative be eaten? What portion am I going to eat? Studies have shown that visualizing a smaller portion during meals reduces the number of calories consumed.
BREAK: Think of food as a source of energy. Indeed, this is true: a few months ago, the energy in your broccoli's chemical bonds was the photons born in thermonuclear solar reactions! Know and respect food and it will reciprocate!
Can I drink before meals? In general, you can if you feel thirsty. After a glass of water wait a couple of minutes before eating. I analyze the water-salt balance in the chapters Water balance and Balance sodium-potassium.
Prayer. You can come up with (or take an existing) prayer that you will read before meals. Being a part of your ritual, it perfectly calms and makes you ready for a meal.