Guide to Conscious Consuming
Everything you consume is creating the future you. WHAT you eat plays a huge role in your future health and wellbeing, however, HOW you eat it is equally, if not more important. Conscious consuming is the act of increasing your awareness to both what you’re eating and how you’re eating it.
Digestion starts in the brain
Humans are born with five senses; sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
These senses help us to navigate the world by sending the correct signals to the brain to then prepare the body. For example; when you smell gone-off milk it’s your sense of smell that signals to your brain not to consume it. Conversely, when you eat free range local chicken it’s your sense of taste that signals additional pleasure receptors in the brain and gut.
When we prepare real, homemade food, our senses (touch, smell and sight) signal to our brain to prepare our digestive system so we can absourb that food and conversely, when we swing by a drive through our senses don’t get a chance to signal before we’ve inhaled the meal so it’s like a surprise attack on our digestive systems – hello heartburn!
Mindless vs Mindful
Unfortunately, it’s estimated the average person in the UK eats 6 out of 10 meals a week in front of the TV. Countless more meals are eaten whilst distracted or on the run which is bad news for our digestion for two main reasons;
1. Stress hormones – Rushing through dinner, eating whilst driving, watching TV or even just standing will lead to elevated stress hormones elevated (even if you don’t ‘feel’ stressed.) This, in turn, re-directs blood supply away from your digestive system making it harder for you to absourb nutrients!
2. Mind-body connection – When we eat whilst distracted, we’re not really paying attention to our senses. We don’t register if we’re really enjoying it, how it tastes and importantly – if we’re starting to feel full. Research has proven when we eat in a distracted state we’re more likely to overconsume AND crave more food in general.
5 Steps to Conscious Consuming
STEP 1 – SIT.
Always sit down (ideally at a table) to eat.
STEP 2 – DISCONNECT.
Turn all screens off and NEVER consume anything but water whilst you’re driving – if you’ve not got time to pull over you’ve not got time to eat.
STEP 3 – PAUSE.
Either take a deep breath or go round the table and share one good thing from the day. Both are proven to lower your stress response which will help you to absourb your food better.
STEP 4 – SLOW DOWN.
Pace don’t race- Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and have a slow race with friends and family, the winner is last to finish.
STEP 5 – CHEW.
Your stomach doesn’t have teeth – so help it out!
The sustainable diet.
By practising the 5 steps above, not only will you start noticing the digestion benefits (reduced: acid reflux, heartburn & even constipation) but you’ll also gain what we like to call ‘nutritional empowerment.’ When our client’s consistently practise these five steps they report increased willpower and reduced cravings.
This is because when you consciously consume something you’re paying more attention to your senses and even more importantly – more attention to how that food has made you feel after you’ve consumed it. You’ll start to ask yourself – is the short enjoyment of taste worth the hours of discomfort? Once clients connect these dots it almost seems ludicrous to eat or overconsume something when you know will cause you harm.
The trick is to find foods you love – that will love you back! So we’re not saying never eat a piece of cake, just do it consciously and see what you discover.
Suggested reading: Stop Counting Calories, Start Counting Nutrients.
Good luck with the five steps to conscious consuming and remember practice doesn’t always make perfect but consistent practise does make things permanent!
Educate yourself. Empower others. Exceed together!
Pip & The DayOne Wellness Team
p.s. If you enjoy our simple approach to sustainable wellbeing you can sign up for our monthly newsletter here.