Greetings Dear Readers,
What is meal time like for you? Do you sit down and enjoy a calm atmosphere and allow time for the food to digest? Let’s get into the subtleties of food energetics. It’s not just the food itself, or the vitamins and minerals it’s also the atmosphere and our mind. The energies of our body and mind and the environment we are eating in that play a huge role in how our food is digesting and what we are absorbing.
Ever notice that being around close friends or nice environments, the food always seems to taste good and you feel healthy and nourished even if the food quality isn’t so great? Why is that? It’s all about the dining experience. We’re not just absorbing nutrients from food, we’re also absorbing energies through all five (or six) senses. Everything we hear, see, smell, touch, it’s all coming in to us on some level, leaving some sort of impression in our body-mind. The energies in and around us are all felt on some level like having antennae which pick up messages from the outside and relays them in. In fact, our gut contains an abundance of nerve fibres which shows that our gut really is our second brain and shows us why our eating atmosphere affects our digestion.
Here’s a check list of things that Traditional Chinese Medicine finds important to your dining experience:
1. Sitting down. Eating while standing or moving about creates Liver Qi stagnation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. If you’re drinking a smoothie, it’s not such a problem, but with heavier food, help your stomach out and grab a seat.
2. Eating mindfully. This means close the book/newspaper/magazine/computer/TV/ phone/internet and pay attention to the food. Appetite and hunger are also mental experiences so being mindful of the experience helps to bring satisfaction from having eaten the meal. Look at the food, enjoy the colours, textures, flavours, savour each morsel and feel the satisfaction as it satiates your hunger and nourishes the cells of your body.
3. Eating in peace. Keep the conversation calming. Talk about what you’re grateful for, hopeful about and what you’re enjoying in life rather than getting into talk about work, having arguments or debates. Avoid being too intellectual at meals because the Spleen’s job is to digest both thoughts and foods. So let your Spleen focus on the food. Once upon a time (not that long ago) going home for lunch was the ideal scenario, a luxury for those going to a day job or school. Somewhere around the 80’s came the “power lunch” the idea of having business meetings with co-workers over lunch. Can be fun if you’re on good terms with your coworkers but can cause digestive problems if you all sit and talk about the stressful job during your lunch break. The same goes with having dinner. Try to create a peaceful, light, joyful atmosphere and avoid bringing work concerns to the table.
4. Give time for the food to digest. After eating, especially a larger meal, most of the body’s
energy is working on digesting that meal. If you push yourself to do other taxing things like working, doing chores, mental work like studying or writing then your digestion will be compromised. It’s good to give your body at least 5 minutes of rest after the meal to just sit at the table and digest. Don’t be in such a rush to do the next thing. Slow down a wee bit. It’s good for your Yin energy. In TCM, health is a balance of Yin and Yang. Yang is active, Yin is restful. Our world has been becoming increasingly Yang and many people are becoming Yin-deficient. Just relax and feel grateful for the food. Remind yourself to cultivate some Yin. There’s a TV channel in British Columbia, Canada where I used to live that during the Christmas season plays a video of a fire place, 24/7. That’s it, just logs burning in a fireplace for hours and hours, days and weeks. So relaxing and healing for the Yin energy. Not surprising, it’s the most popular channel at that time of year.
Yours in health,