I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.
Listen to Your Mom-Chew Your Food
When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted—working, reading, talking and watching television—and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.
There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food.
- Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets.
- Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
- More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings.
- It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full.
- In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight.
- Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control.
The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.
Try eating without the TV, computer, Blackberry, newspaper or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing.
This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email and demands from others. But as you create a new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every day—why not learn to savor and enjoy it?
Food Focus: Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is a nutritional powerhouse with ancient origins. It was originally cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago; they referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.
While quinoa is widely considered a grain, it’s actually the seed of a plant called Chenopodium or Goosefoot, related to chard and spinach. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has a similar effect as other whole grains in helping to stabilize blood sugar.
It has a waxy protective coating called saponin which can leave a bitter taste. For best results, rinse quinoa before you cook it or even soak it for a few hours or overnight. When cooked, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Try it in soups, salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish.
For quinoa, and whole grains in general, the majority of digestion occurs in the mouth through chewing and exposure to saliva. For optimal nutrition and assimilation, it is vital to chew your grains well and with awareness. A great meditation is to find a calm place, without distractions, to sit down for your meal. Make it a habit to chew each bite 20 times or more. See how this simple practice can help your digestion and overall focus for the rest of your day.
Recipe of the Month: Quinoa Pilaf
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 1/4 cups water or stock
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- pinch of salt
- Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.
- Boil the water and add quinoa and salt, cover and reduce heat.
- After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top; do not stir.
- Cook 5 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes and serve.
Energy Management for Optimal Health, Balance & Functional Longevity
When Daylight Savings Time comes around many of us think, “Oh, good, I have more time in my day.” And then we wonder why we still feel a time crunch and get that nagging feeling of lack of control. Basically, we feel stressed and time keeps moving right along and we’re still on that hamster wheel. Once time passes, it’s gone. Time cannot be regenerated.
What if we took a different approach and started focusing on something that is in our control-something that when it is used it can also be restored? What if we began to focus on our internal energy and began to manage our energy as if it were a renewable resource? Guess what? It is renewable and we can manage it for increased vitality and health.
Science has demonstrated that we are energetic beings, comprised of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy. And the caveat is that our energy is our renewable resource When we expend our energy we can also renew it. That way of approaching our daily living has the potential of alleviating a major source of stress-feeling like we don’t have choices. If we continue to run on empty, it will eventually tale a toll on our health and well-being. We can choose to direct the outlay of our energy and then choose to rekindle it. when we preside over how we utilize our energy, both expending and renewing is a big step towards optimal health, balance and functional longevity.
And managing energy doesn’t take a long time. In fact, just 60 seconds of deep, focused breathing can be reinvigorating. Many of the Energy TIps below are ways of renewing our energy. The time it takes to do them varies. The point is, you get to choose when and how to renew your energy. And you can start NOW-today. Every 60-90 minutes. Take a 1-3 minute energy break. Close your eyes and direct your thought to your breathing. If your thoughts stray and you begin to think of all the things you need to be doing, simply refocus on your breath. Keep bringing your focus to your breathing. You can practice this without closing your eyes. For example, standing in the grocery check-out line. Bring your focus to your breathing and let your thought pass by as if they were floating on a river-moving right past you. The cool thing about your breath is it’s always with you and you can utilize it as an energy management tool.
I’ll guarantee you that with practice you’ll be able to reenergize within this framework and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your productivity, poise and positivity throughout your day. Try it for a week. It’s your choice. It will enhance your sense of control and help you cope more successfully with your daily stressors. I’ll be writing more about energy management in all the domains in my blog. Let me know how it’s working for you. If you have questions, send me an email or comment to my blog. I look forward to hearing how you’re using this initial tool. Take a look at the Energy Management Tips below, too, and start to incorporate them into your daily rouine. Experiment with which ones work best for you. Build your own ritual.
Energy Management Tips[gn_box title=”Energy Management Tips” color=”#e2a04b”]Physical Energy Domain: Every 60-90 minutes take an Energy Break. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You don’t have to force it-just breathe normally. You might say to yourself, “Breathing in. Breathing out.” When thoughts or feelings enter your mind, just watch them go by. You don’t need to do anything with them-fix them, change them, suppress them. Just watch them pass and bring your focus back to your breathing. “Breathe in. Breathe out.” Just a few minutes of focused breathing to allow your energy to build back up will increase your ability to sustain your productivity. You’ll find yourself much more able to sustain your energy throughout your day.
Emotional Energy Domain: Think of aspects of your job that you enjoy; areas in which you can apply your strengths; facets of your job you find meaningful.What can you do to engage in these activities more often? List specific steps you will take to spend more time in these areas.
Mental Energy Domain: When was the last time you gave yourself permission to daydream? When you take a walk, doodle, or daydream, you access your right hemisphere-the part of your bran geared for creativity and innovation. Schedule a work development hour-once a week slate time to brainstorm or strategize around an issue at work that calls for a solution beyond the tactical.
Spiritual Energy Domain: Do you feel a vocation to be fully human? Pema Chodron said “we don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.” Throughout your interactions today ask yourself how you affected other people’s hearts. Did you inspire them? Did you ennoble them? When you did, how did you feel? What does it feel like to be fully human?[/gn_box]
Forward to a Friend
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.