Rule 8. Pause before eating
The pause before eating is between the moment you sit at the table and the moment you start eating. Such a pause is very important for getting ready to eat, 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 our eating behavior and digestion.
I can often see how people scoff at themselves the moment they sit at the table. I used to be such a person. But this is not healthy eating behavior. If we want the complex processes to work correctly and if we want to gain from them, we have to get ready. In fact, the secret of good sex is foreplay. The same with food. If you devour food the moment you sit by the table you miss out on a lot. Make food like foreplay and you will get more pleasure and satisfaction!
How did the problem arise?
The problem of devouring a meal the moment it appears happens after you have had a long period of hunger or experienced a high-stress level. To reduce hunger and stress, people use food to eliminate unpleasant feelings quickly. They fill the stomach to feel peace and relaxation. However, this can lead to overeating and worse assimilation of food.
Increasingly we reduce our mealtime and don’t cook but buy ready-made food. This leads to the situation when we begin eating almost without a pause. This seemingly unimportant detail happens to have a noticeable effect on our digestion process.
How does it affect health?
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 prevents overeating.
Stress. A sharp switch from work to eating is undesirable. A pause before eating helps you get ready for mealtime. 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, intestinal motility, and improves blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract.
Mechanical overeating and mindfulness. A pause before eating reduces a rush and an automatic response that prevents negative emotions, improves pleasure, and a healthier choice of meals.
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 food consumed. The bigger the appetite before eating, the easier it is for you to notice you have achieved satiation. Satiation appears when hunger reduces. If you start eating without being hungry, you can automatically overeat.
Improving the taste of food and the pleasure of eating. In one experiment, scientists showed that a pause before eating, used for taking and posting pictures of meals, improved taste and increased pleasure in 90 percent of participants. The authors of the study believe that a pause before eating increases enjoyment. Therefore, take your time and you will enhance the taste.
Satiety. If you eat your food in a rush, it shows you don’t care what you are eating, doesn’t appreciate food, and don’t think about its benefits and nutritional value. Therefore the food you eat in this manner will not satisfy your hunger well. In one study, the participants received a milkshake with the same calorie content with different labels. One indicated a lower calorie content than the other. It turned out that the decrease in the hunger hormone, after consuming the milkshake, depended on the label and not on the real calorie content. Therefore, the psychological attitude towards satiety and the sufficiency of food affects the level of the hunger hormone in the human blood.
Pause for two to five minutes before eating. Look at the food, smell it, and consider why you need its energy, where it comes from, and what healthy and effective components it contains.
Time. Studies show that in the first thirty seconds, the smell of food whets the appetite and increases the desire to eat high-calorie foods first. Two minutes or more of smelling and thinking about the high-calorie foods allowed participants to make healthier food choices.
Consciousness. Regarding consciousness, gratitude is the most effective form of this which reduces stress. We can thank those people who cultivated, caught, stored, transported, and cooked our food of the day. We can be thankful for the circumstances in which we can eat our food safely today- and everything is well.
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 helpful in each of them? How well 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 make a toast without alcohol: may this food give us the strength to finish today’s project!’ Waiting and speaking, as you do in a restaurant, makes food taste more delicious.
How to follow the rule? Ideas and tips
Are you ready to eat? Has your stress decreased? You can check this easily because when stressed, saliva production is suppressed and the oral cavity is dry. If you have a dry mouth at the sight of food, then you need to rest. If saliva appears, then you can eat!
Hot food. Consuming very hot food and drinks for too long 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 for allowing food to cool down. The safe temperature of food is 40°C and below.
Cold water. Wash your hands 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 app. on your phone.
Consuming very hot food and drinks for too long 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 for allowing food to cool down. The safe temperature of food is 40°C and below.
Respect food. It is important to respect food! 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. How much energy is in it, then this knowledge and respect are transformed into satiety and pleasure. Think of food as a source of energy: just a few months ago, the energy contained in the chemical bonds of your broccoli 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.
Think of food as a source of energy: just a few months ago, the energy contained in the chemical bonds of your broccoli 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 will 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 can say before meals. Being a part of your ritual, it perfectly calms you and makes you ready for a meal.
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