One of my favourite snacks has always been crackers. Unfortunately, most crackers are pretty unhealthy and not a great source of nutrients on their own. Crackers from a box are processed, refined and stripped of their nutrient value. On top of that, they are often filled with vegetable oils like canola, safflower, sunflower or cottonseed oil which are unstable inside the body. Most boxed crackers are full of refined carbs and unhealthy fat but have little to no protein or fibre content- the more you eat, the more you keep eating!
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We are on to week 4 and I hope everyone has gotten enjoyment out of sleeping more, breathing deeper, and stressing less. I am super excited to talk about this coming week because, since practicing myself, as well as having other clients practice what I'm going to talk about, goals are being achieved faster than anyone expected. I also want to give a shout out to Marc David, founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, which I will be attending in January, and author of one of the books that has revolutionized my life and the way I work with clients. It's called The Slow Down Diet. I recommend this book to everyone with no discretion, and have gotten a lot of my blog information for my weekly challenges from it. Week 4 is all about presence and pleasure. In the fast paced world we live in, we are rarely present for when we eat. We eat in front of computer screens as we work our way through lunch, we sit in front of television screens as we eat dinner, and we rush through every meal, eager to get onto our next task. During the day we eat while we are doing all these things but the question is, have you really eaten?
There is a response in the body called your cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR), which is the term scientists use to describe the visual stimulation, tastes, aromas, and pleasure derived from eating. This is the "head phase" of digestion (cephalic meaning head), and it literally accounts for 30-40% of total digestion. If we are not aware when we eat, we massively cut down the potential of our digestion.
The simple awareness of a meal ignites chemical responses in the body, like increased saliva, gastric, and pancreatic enzyme secretion, and forces blood to the digestive organs to prepare the body for incoming food. Lack of attention means we don't get the oxygen we need from that increased blood flow to the digestive organs, which in turn, slows down our metabolic rate and can lead to digestion issues, lowered immunity, and fatigue.
If you don't let yourself fully experience the event of eating, the brain interprets this as a "missed meal" and is left hungry. Even though you may have consumed enough calories, or maybe even too many, if you didn't pay attention, you haven't really fed yourself. This is where weight gain happens, when we fail to realize we are eating as we stuff ourselves full. Failure to pay attention results in over consumption more often than not because we are designed to relax, enjoy, process, and experience each meal. Have you ever sat in front of the tv and eaten a whole bag of chips? Try eating a whole bag of chips sitting at your kitchen table with nothing on in front of you. My guess is, you wouldn't...ever.
CPDR is required whenever we sit down to eat, it is essential that we fulfill this natural, God given desire the body has for food. We need food to live, and our bodies need satisfaction when we eat, that's just the way it is. You can be on the strictest of diets but not achieve the body (or mind for that matter) that you want on a long term basis, because you aren't meeting this requirement. And if you are miserable when you eat, nutrient absorption is drastically decreased.
Imagine now, going through a holiday where family and friends get together to enjoy each others company around the dinner table. Imagine stressing out about food that you don't necessarily deem "healthy" or "on the program", and missing out on a truly enjoyable and loving experience. Imagine missing out on the pleasure of dining around those who's hands have lovingly crafted your meal, and around those who love you as you are, also knowing that by not enjoying the pleasure of food and letting go of your fears, that your body is pumping out stress hormones and your metabolism is slowing down. Fat is being stored, and your CPDR is not being fulfilled.
This week, it's time to sit back and enjoy eating. I'm not suggesting to binge on whatever food you like. What I'm suggesting is that you let go. I challenge you to enjoy eating a meal and not beat yourself up about it or punish yourself in the gym the next day if it isn't the healthiest meal. Because this week is over Christmas, I think it's quite fitting. When you relax about eating and eat in a way that builds the body, you naturally stop eating when you've had enough. This takes self awareness and intentional eating. Listen to your body, and slow down and enjoy your meals.