A mentor of mine once told me:
“Drink your solids and chew your liquids.”
I’ve tried to live by this sentiment ever since – and, for good reason.
As Jack Kornfield says in An Eating Meditation,
“Most people eat two, three, or four times a day, and most of the time we do it all on automatic pilot”.
This mentality of automatic pilot has done a serious disservice to our digestive processes – it puts unneeded stress on our bodies and, over time, it can lead to truly uncomfortable and disruptive feedback. Thankfully, we can reverse this fast-paced modern mentality by slowing it all down; backing it all the way up to our mouths; and chewing. Chewing mindfully. Chewing thoughtfully. And, chewing intentionally. On behalf of the physiological processes of our gastrointestinal tracts, chewing truly is a great gift we can offer our bodies.
DIGESTION IS A MULTI-FACETED AND EXTREMELY COMPLEX PROCESS UNIQUE TO OUR RESPECTIVE BIO-INDIVIDUALITIES.
And, yet, I’ve discovered there are simple tenets behind the myriad complex interactions that help us break it down into a more relaxed and comfortable relationship. Here’s one simple and exemplary tenet I’ve discovered over the course of my studies and self-experimentation: The science of digestion is constantly changing, but that does not change the fact it is absolutely crucial to control what we can control. Just as I can control how I respond to my environment so can I control how I interact with the food I choose to eat. The two primary digestive functions I have conscious control over are ingestion and mechanical processing. Breaking it down even further: I have control over what I choose to eat and how I choose to eat it. My advice to you is choose to eat wisely and choose to chew thoroughly and mindfully.
Each and every time we set forth on the path of eating we are making a deeply conscious choice to honor our body or disregard our body. I propose a celebration of our brilliance by honoring our bodies! After we’ve consciously selected healthy foods to eat (maybe we’ve even grown this food ourselves); after we’ve prepared our foods mindfully and respectfully; our mindful chewing sets the table for proper digestion, secretion, absorption, and excretion to take place within our body’s digestive tract. Setting the digestive table in this way, by chewing thoroughly, is extremely important for our overall health – after all, for food to be absorbed into our blood and assimilated by our cells it needs to be broken down properly. But, how does this ‘breaking down properly’ happen? Looking at chewing and how it impacts digestion through the lens of Functional Nutrition offers deeper insight.