Each year at this time, the term “self-care” becomes quite buzzy. It is essential as it’s not uncommon for us to forget our own needs in favor of our work or loved ones. Also, though the opinion of “me time” or prioritizing yourself may seem insignificant it is crucial for your emotional, physical and mental well-being. The most reliable way to incorporate self-care into your daily routine is to start with your eating. Basically, we are what we eat, right?
We all know that what we eat has a huge impact on both our personal and professional lives, yet developing a good relationship with food is not the first thing we think when it comes to mind about taking self-care. Good nutrition and proper eating behavior are the ultimate form of self-care. And while it may not feel like a deep tissue massage, it does benefit your mood, stress, digestion, and overall health definitely compliment all other beautiful self-care practices you do for your mind and body.
Combining smart self-eating practices can do wonders for your body and mind. Here are some self-eating habits that’ll help you lead a healthier and happier life:
Chew Your Food Properly
We have all heard many times before that we should chew our food properly before swallowing it, 32 times to be more precise. An essential practice in eating self-care is to chew your food correctly. Digestion begins with chewing in your mouth. It is vital to chew your food properly for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Meals should be eaten in a relaxed atmosphere, sitting down to ensure that the food is well chewed. Many people rush to eat in our busy society, skip chewing their food, or wash down what they put in their mouths with various liquids. Such eating habits lead to digestive problems and persistent excessive overeating because the body is not getting any nutrition from poorly chewed food.
When you chew food, it gets crushed down into smaller pieces. It helps reduce the pressure on the esophagus and thus allows the stomach to digest and metabolize your food. When food is chewed well, you also excrete a lot of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. When you release these enzymes into the throat and stomach, it helps improve digestion. When mixed with saliva, chewing can help your body get the most out of its possible amount of nutrients from the food.
Causes of not chewing properly
When your food is not digested correctly, you may suffer from digestive issues such as:
- Weight gain
- Low energy
Benefits of chewing food
- Easier digestion
- It’s good for your teeth
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Enjoy and taste your food
- Food gets more exposure to saliva
- Less excess bacteria lingering in your intestines
- Absorb more energy and nutrients from your food
HOW TO CHEW YOUR FOOD PROPERLY
- Chew your food around 32 times per bite
- Chew slowly and steadily
- Wait to drink fluids after you’ve swallowed
- Finish chewing and swallowing entirely before taking one more bite of food
- Chew while waiting for your mouthful of food is liquefied or lost all of its texture
Eat-in a Calm and Relaxed Environment (instead of in front of the tv, laptop, or smartphone)
It’s okay to have a snack in front of the TV sometimes, but when it becomes a recurring pattern, or when it is cognitively linked to eating and watching TV, it becomes an unhealthy pattern.
If you’re eating in front of a TV, a computer or a smartphone, chances are you’re paying more attention to what’s happening on the screen than the food you’re putting in your mouth. We eat more mindlessly in front of the TV.
Studies show that when we are busy or distracted, we tend to overeat—both in the moment of distraction and later on in the day.
Not only does this make food less satisfying, but it also makes it easier to lose the indication that you’ve eaten enough, such as how far you’ve gone from the plate or the sense that your stomach is becoming full. Experts do not recommend watching TV while eating. After all, it can cause binging or improper chewing because it distracts a person.
Side Effects of Eating While Watching TV
Here are some issues that can happen if you and your kids eat in front of a screen.
1. Overeating and Obesity
People tend to eat more while watching TV, which can lead to overeating and obesity.
2. Lower Metabolism
When you eat food and watch TV, the brain is distracted and sends the wrong signals to the body, and does not follow the taste or satisfaction of the palette.
Watching TV while eating slows down the metabolic rate, which causes the food to be digested slowly and the fat to be burned slowly.
While watching TV, you may overeat as a result, which can cause digestion problems.
Breaking the habit
1.Disconnect the two behaviors.
It’s okay to have a snack while watching TV, but take some a break and go to the table to get your snack and then come back to the TV. Studies show that giving your food the attention it deserves may reduce the amount you eat, plus cut down on hunger and snacking later.
In terms of your snacking and watching TV – it can be helpful to think ahead and set limits.
3.Invite a friend
Sometimes it can be helpful to watch TV with other people because we role model our behavior with them. When we are with someone else, we do not eat so much mindlessly.
If you desire something in the evening, choose a snack that is not sugary or caffeinated. Complex carbohydrates such as cereals, whole-grain bread, or crackers can help promote sleep.
5. Creating an environment free of clutter and distractions
Creating an environment free of clutter and distractions can promote more peaceful and mindful eating. It, too, helps us recognize the signs of hunger and satiety not to overeat. Spending more time on food also helps you digest food better. At the very least, sit down at a table, take a breath, and chew your food.
Stop Emotional Eating
For self-care, it’s better to eat when feeling more balanced instead of emotional eating. Finding comfort in eating is a common thing, and it is part of a practice called emotional eating. About 40% of people tend to eat more when stressed, which leads to weight gain. From work stress to financial problems, from health issues to relationship conflicts can be the root cause of your emotional eating.
Emotional eating may involve consuming moderate to significant amounts of food. It may be the only symptom that a person has or be parts of an emotional illness like depression, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
What Causes Emotional e=Eating
Emotional eating affects both men and women. It may be caused by many factors, including stress, hormonal changes, stuffing emotions (including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame), boredom or feelings of emptiness, and social influences or mixed hunger cues.
Effect of Emotional Eating
When left untreated, overeating emotionally can lead to weight loss problems, obesity, and even food addiction.
When looking to balance self-care practice, start by balancing your meals with all the food groups rather than emotional eating with a particular food. Different foods have different properties and do other jobs in the body. Some boost mood, some provide energy, and some help regulate sleep.
How to overcome emotional eating
Teaching individuals healthy ways to look at food and develop better eating habits (such as mindfulness eating) in overcoming emotional eating, recognizing their triggers for engaging in this behavior, and developing other more appropriate ways to prevent and alleviate stress.
Reducing stress, using food as nourishment rather than a solution to problems, and using constructive methods to deal with emotions can help prevent emotional eating.
Studies also show that thinking about the future rather than focusing on satisfying food cravings prevents emotional eating. Other ways to avoid emotional eating behaviors include meditation, exercise, engaging in other stress prevention and stress management techniques, and avoiding caffeine.
Practices that you can incorporate to make eating food more a Holistic Experience
Don’t try to do everything at once. Just choose to change one thing and pay attention to it for a while and when you feel comfortable with it, add something else.
2.Acknowledge and honor your hunger—listen to your body
Allow yourself to feel your hunger. Accept and embrace it. Do not react to hunger or try to cure it. Stay with it for a while and pay attention to what your body wants. Are you craving warm and relaxing or cold and crisp? Something light or filling? After really experiencing hunger, it is incredibly satisfying to eat.
3.Get rid of distractions—turn off the television/screen
It is crucial. It is challenging to keep engaged and focused on your food with just the distraction of your mind and technology that another layer is added between you and mindful eating.
4.Understand your emotions, but don’t eat because of them
It isn’t easy because we are constantly experiencing emotions, and they affect how we feel, which affects what and how we want to eat. But you can acknowledge your emotions while making conscious choices about what to eat! You will always be happy that you stopped and acted intentionally.
5.Take your time
A significant part of mindful eating is giving yourself time to taste your food and fully taste each bite the whole time you are chewing. Put your fork down in between bites.