Learning & Resource Center Articles
Food - Chew More, Eat Less, Live Longer, Lose Weight
By: Lee Holden, L.Ac.
Just as important as what you eat is how you eat. The process of eating plays a vital role in metabolism, vitality, and nutrition. The more skillfully you eat, the less you have to worry about what you eat. Just as we need education on what to eat, learning how the process of eating influences metabolism is equally important.
From Seven Minutes of Magic
From low fat to low carb, from South Beach to Okinawa, there are countless diets and nutrition books on the market, all advocating a different program. In this section, I want to give you a refreshing perspective: just as important as what you eat is how you eat. What I want to explore with you is how the process of eating plays a vital role in metabolism, vitality, and nutrition. The more skillfully you eat, the less you have to worry about what you eat. Just as we need education on what to eat, learning how the process of eating influences metabolism is equally important.
There really are lots of reasons to eat – the taste, social engagements, your mother told you to, and of course because you're hungry. It doesn't necessarily matter what your reasons are, the ultimate goal is to fuel up your body with energy. This section is about tuning into the process of eating so that we not only enjoy our food more, but we also get more energy out of the food we eat.
In the last decade alone, nutritionists, doctors, and diet and health "experts" have written hundreds of books promoting dozens of dietary theories and routines. For the purposes of this book, let's highlight some key points that are universally healthy and move on to a refreshing way to look at how we fuel our bodies – how we eat food.
Here are some of the common-sense dietary suggestions:
- Eat a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Eat whole grains, complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain bread) rather than simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread).
- Eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
- Don't overeat.
- Eat when you're hungry.
- Minimize junk food and processed foods.
- Drink plenty of pure water every day.
- Get essential fatty acids from fish or nuts.
- Drink green tea
- Get plenty of anti-oxidants from fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices.
People are obsessed with diets for a good reason. Obesity cuts millions of lives short and can wreak havoc on our overall health and energy. Yet, our weight, health and energy levels are more than just the food we eat. Why is it that over eighty percent of diets don't work and that the weight people lose is usually back within a year?
There are many reasons diets fail – some diets are difficult to incorporate into everyday life, some limit our food choices and are not sustainable, others don't take into consideration individual needs.
With so many diets failing, there is a refreshing and simple Taoist solution to loosing weight and getting healthy: Chew more.
Rather than continually changing the food we eat, jumping from one diet plan to another, just chew more. Most of us chew our food an average of only seven times before swallowing. Throughout most of this book, seven is a great number, but here is where it doesn't apply. If we chewed each mouthful twenty – thirty times, our average caloric intake could be cut from more than 3000 per day to 2000. And we would feel full on less food. Chewing more allows digestion to begin in the mouth and prepares the entire digestive system.
The Taoist recommendation for healthy eating is, "Drink your food." That means, chew your food so thoroughly that it becomes liquid in your mouth. This helps digestive enzymes in the saliva begin to break down the food and prepare the body for assimilation. By the time the food gets to the stomach, the work is already partially done. In this way, we get more energy and more nutrition from the food we eat. Also, the internal organs work better because the digestive process is more efficient.
Chewing more means eating more slowly. It generally takes twenty minutes to realize how full you are. If you rush through a meal, you almost always overeat. When you eat slower, you enjoy your food more and you eat less. Also, chewing more increases your metabolism and you burn more fat.
In this practice, you want to chew your food about twenty – thirty times. While you are chewing, bring your attention to the process of chewing and how the food tastes and feels in your mouth. It is important here not be doing other things, like watching television, driving or reading. Although it can be done during these activities, it is much better to have all of your awareness on the process of eating. Pay close attention to every bite. Food eaten mindfully will be easier to digest and you will be less likely to overeat.
- Sit down for your meal.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Take a bite of something delicious.
- Chew 20 – 30 times.
- Savor the food.
- Feel the texture in your mouth.
- Notice the taste and flavors.
- Have the intention that what you are eating will deliver energy and vitality to your entire body.
About the Author
Lee Holden is an internationally recognized teacher of Qi gong and tai chi, and a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. He frequently appears on PBS and American Public Television. Lee's entire collection of Qi Gong DVDs are now available in one convenient bundle at a special price. All of Lee's books and DVDs can be purchased at www.exercisetoheal.com.
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