Eating with Awareness

Whilst embarking on a juice fast, the addiction of food in the Western World became evermore apparent to me. Traditionally, fasting was a common practice: a time for detoxification, spiritual growth and healing. Today however, the majority of North Americans would not even consider this traditional method of healing, finding the task of refraining from food far too difficult and seeing it as detrimental. Could this be due to the vast amount of temptation surrounding us daily in Western civilization? It is hard to go about one’s day without large images of junk foods being forced in front of our faces, whether this be through billboards, magazines, newspapers, shop displays, television advertisements and more. We are constantly hearing messages of food, special sales and how it has been enriched to suit our individual needs. Walking down the street, we are bombarded by the scents of deep frying, cooking and baking from a variety of food outlets. Billboards are even being created in the United States, which actually smell like food! Whether you’re auditory, visual or kinesthetic

learner, there is some form of food advertising directly aimed at you.

Food is big business! Billions, if not trillions are spent on marketing every year, which consequently explains our addiction to it! The food giants want us to become obsessed. Unfortunately as usual, it all boils down to money and power.

People’s taste buds have become so overwhelmed by added salt, sugar, artificial flavours and combined cuisine that we seem to have lost our taste for the basic foods. On my fast, I felt that if I were to eat a grain, vegetable or legume alone I would really enjoy its individual flavour, but to most people this would be considered bland. This may also be due to the fact that not many of us can say we bring our full concentration to the dinner plate. Most of us watch TV, listen to the radio, read or talk while we eat, so little attention really goes to the food itself. Subsequently food is not chewed properly. The simple task of concentrating fully on the food being consumed can greatly improve our health. Food is better digested when chewed properly, as digestion begins in the mouth. This requires a minimum of 30 chews, although Buddhist monks believe 50 is optimal! Improper chewing may lead to an increased risk of allergies, candidiasis, obesity and digestive disorders. Savoring each mouthful and truly tasting it allows more digestive juices to be released, aiding progression of the digestive process. It shows appreciation of the food and therefore gives it positive energy, which is passed on to us as vitality.

Digestion functions better when living in the present moment as stress is diminished, which can severely hinder production of digestive juices. Eating with awareness also makes it a spiritual practice, helping to deepen our spirituality. As the process of consumption has been slowed down and fully enjoyed, you will be aware when you are full, consequently preventing overeating. Practicing this form of eating would also help one make wiser food choices, as with adequate chewing rancid oils can be tasted and junk food generally doesn’t taste so good. Many digestive issues, such as flatulence, bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and acid reflux can be caused by eating too fast or eating when stressed and may be greatly relieved by the simple practice of eating with awareness.

So give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Sophia White is a registered holistic nutritionist living in Nanaimo.