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Tips for Resting & Digesting (food)

 

 

It’s nice to eat nice foods—expensive and high quality foods—organic foods, locally grown, homemade, etc. But it isn’t just about what we eat, but how we eat, that will maximize the conversion of our food into nutrients, which will convert into globally good health.

Whether you use your hands or utensils is up to you and your social circle, but across the board everyone advises chewing our food until it is liquefied in our mouths. This is for the same rationale that Eastern medicines recommend warm and cooked foods—they are easier to digest. Whenever I bribe my toddler with dark chocolate, cheese, or bread, she’s suddenly lightning fast at shoveling two handfuls of vegetables into her mouth in anticipation of her treat; my wife and I have to remind her, almost like a cheerleading chant: “Chew, chew, chew!” “Mastica!”

Each organ channel has its many correspondences, to particular seasons, colors, of the five elements, as well as shapes. The spleen and stomach are ruled by circles (and the color yellow), which means the ideal way to eat and digest is at a roundtable (of loved ones), I suppose with a yellow tablecloth. Ironically, such interior design would likely make my wife vomit.

The point is, we supposedly metabolize our foods that much better when seated surrounded by the company of loved ones. This might explain why many cultures that are known more for their tight-knit communities than their health-conscious diets, live late into life before experiencing any ailments or disease.

Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, is the parasympathetic nervous system cliche of “rest and digest.” It’s not in our power to have a big family meal 21 times a week. Most of us are super busy, eating on the go, if not at least shoving the last bite of food into our mouths like my daughter, before standing up to pay the check, throwing our coats on, and rushing back to work. Unfortunately, in such cases, one will likely absorb only about half of the nutrients they otherwise would have had they just sat for 10-20 minutes after finishing. Needless to say, over time this can be dangerous.

My understanding is it should take at least 15 minutes to eat our food, plus 15 minutes afterwards to sit and digest. Depending on our energy levels, this can be followed by either a 15-minute walk or a 15-minute cat nap, as they do in Europe (though theirs’ is more like an hour). My wife told me about a study that contrasted the blood sugar levels in two groups against one another after eating identical meals, where the one that took 20 minutes to eat it showed a much lower glucose spike than the one that ate the same food rapidly.

On my busy days, which is every day, I try to make a habit of looking at the clock after my last bite and not allowing myself to get up until at least 15 minutes later. Although the general consensus is it is bad to look at screens while eating, my opinion is it is better to use the phone for a few minutes to bide the digestive time window than it is to get up and physically rush out.

Work-induced stress and anxiety compromises our health enough without allowing it to directly interfere with our organs and metabolism. I encourage everyone to take the 30 minutes three times every day to properly rest and digest!

This article was posted in Diet, Digestive Disorders, Herbal Medicine, Mindfulness, Nutrition, Recipes, Traditional Chinese Medicine. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.
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