Heads up, this is not one of those how to fix a kinda healthy thanksgiving course like meal in under 20 minutes, Sorry y’all. However let’s talk about how long it takes for us to usually finish a meal. Many of us don’t make the luxury of actually enjoying a meal. When I say we don’t make it a luxury I don’t mean getting the most expensive meal at the most expensive spot just to snap pics of ya food for the gram my baby. Most of us are eating in the car on our way to somewhere or lack there of. While others are scarfing downing a meal before they run to their next meeting. If no one wants to admit to not making dining a moment, I’m shamed to say my meals last on average 3-5 minutes tops. I’m embarrassed to say this includes dinner with family. I’m usually the first done to eat regardless of the occasion. For a long time I judged myself as being greedy and felt much shame for being a woman that could scarf down a whole meal in under 10 minutes. But I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and really look at, why.
First off most of ya girls first jobs were mall jobs where the breaks were hella short and the food lines were hella long. You spent 10 mins of your “break” clocking out and warming ya food up if no one else was occupying the microwave. God forbid you ain’t bring a lunch now you tryna figure out what you even wanted on top of tryna figure out who will have the shortest wait time. Now your already 15 minutes into your food and mind beak, still no food and no time for the mind. By the time you finish fighting off babies for the last cinnamonbon and run back to the money, you might be able to enjoy 5 minutes of solitude before it’s right back to it.
Once I left mall jobs it only got worse with an office job. Hunger games times two with the 30 minute lunch breaks with all the interruptions and set backs you could imagine. I had becomes programmed to hurry up and dine. Leaving my wasteline in shambles and keeping my stress levels hella high. I never knew how to slow down not even for a minute. My 3-5 minute meals translated to 3-5 minutes of effort on everything in life. 3-5 minutes of patience tops, 3-5 minutes worth of determination. Just get through it to get to the “next thing” not realizing this was affecting me in more ways than one.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) stimulates the digestive system. In order for that to happen the two branches for the ANS include the parasympathetic which relaxes the the body and turns on digestion and the sympathetic which turns off digestion when there’s no food present in the body or if you are under stress.
So think about it, your body is very intelligent at signaling what’s needed based on the state of the mind and body. if you are rushing through a meal to get to the next thing, This makes it harder to lose or maintains weight if we are always in a state of rush, stress and go. Eating under stress leads to digestive upset, decreased nutrient assimilation and unwanted fat storage ie: weight gain. However when the parasympathetic is relaxed it stimulates a state of relaxation inducing healthy digestion and calorie burning abilities.
What does all this mean to you, it’s a call to action. I’m not saying to have the longest meal ever however switching from eating in a rushed stressed state to slowing down and making meal time an event in itself can not only allow us to become more mindful but assist in losing and maintaining weight. It takes the body about 20 minutes on average to recognize when it’s full so if we are getting through meals all savage like in 5 minutes or less we are not giving our bodies enough time to go through the “I’m full processes” and we are also signaling a stress response to the body that will hold onto that meal in our gut way longer than we’d like.
So I challenge you over the next 7 days to slow down and enjoy a meal. You may not hit enjoying a meal for 20 minutes out the gate however start small. Look at the time you start and finish a meal and aim to add 5 minutes each meal. Ways to do this, breath while eating. I know that sounds like common sense but really think about how often we take a moment to take a real belly breath especially while eating, I’ll be the first to say not often enough. Another way to slow down and enjoy is put your eating utensil down after each bite allowing you the time to chew your food. Journal how you feel throughout the meal to see how your mind processes being able to slow down and “luxurify” a homemade stir fry on that next lunch break.
As we am to become more mindful incorporating small mindful acts in everyday things we create the biggest change for our lives. We often think a healthy life requires hard efforts of big things when the trust is it takes consistent effort of the small things.
Happy 20 minute mealing!
Health coach institute course work guide.