Eating in a relaxed environment is key to properly digesting our food and drink. When our body and mind are stressed, chemicals in our brain, such as cortisol and insulin, surge and create an environment that doesn’t support a healthy metabolism—in this scenario, even eating healthy food can result in weight gain. When you consider the very act of meal prep alone (cooking can oftentimes be a stressor), it’s a challenge to actually eat under stress-free conditions.
To create an optimal eating environment, I start inside my head.
Envision a relaxed scenario. Even if my time is pressed and circumstances seem contradictory, I create a vision of what is ideal. With this positive mental picture, I can then put forth the necessary efforts to make it a reality. For example, I get up early to prepare food for my family. I have a routine that consists of just 6 or 7 minutes where I eat my breakfast served on an attractive plate or in a pretty bowl with a cloth napkin in an uncluttered space in my kitchen. (Yes, I really do this.)
Even if you don’t have cloth napkins, you’ll notice a difference by simply dedicating a small, defined, area in your kitchen where you can eat peacefully. What I actually eat varies, but the environment is always an attractive place. When I eat in this way, I actually notice and enjoy my food, rather than shoving it down my throat and giving myself indigestion.
When you keep your stomach happy, it reflects in your overall body and mood.
Another example is thinking about food prep in advance of the time I actually need to start cooking. When I’m able to chop or dice ahead of time—like in the morning, or when my daughter is in the kitchen after-school—I can prepare a meal knowing that I don’t have a million and one things to do to have dinner ready at 6 pm. This reduces my stress about dinner prep, making dinner itself a more relaxing experience.
As I finish up this post, I recall a story about a friend who is a beautifully relaxed eater and works hard to maintain this good habit. When he’s on the golf course and approaching the 18th hole, he phones the restaurant at his course and orders lunch. When he and his friends arrive at the restaurant, his lunch is waiting for him and he can start eating right away. This way, he doesn’t feel rushed to eat at the same pace as his buddies, and can actually enjoy his food—good thinking! I believe we can all afford to take a page from my friend’s book so that we may all experience the benefits of relaxed eating.
What do you do to eat in a relaxed environment? Leave me a tip in the comments!