I have been challenged recently to chew each bite of my food for a minimum of 20 chews. This has been nearly impossible for me! I don’t even realize how quickly I eat and seem to chew only a few times each mouthful. Chewing is the first step in the digestive process and allowing the saliva to do its job is important for a healthful meal.
A book I recently started reading (Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach) is about our guts and digestion. Two quotes from the introduction make me smile: “Yes, men and women eat meals. But they also ingest nutrients. They grind and sculpt them into a moistened bolus that is delivered, via a stadium wave of sequential contractions, into a self-kneading sack of hydrochloric acid and then dumped into a tubular leach field….Lunch is an opening act.”
“The early anatomists has that curiosity in spades. They entered the human form like an unexplored continent. Parts were names like elements of geography: the isthmus of the thyroid, the isles of the pancreas, the straits and inlets of the pelvis. The digestive tract was for centuries known as the alimentary canal. How lovely to picture one’s dinner making its way down a tranquil, winding waterway, digestion and excretion no more upsetting or off-putting than a cruise along the Rhine. It’s this mood, these sentiments — the excitement of exploration and the surprises and delights of travel to foreign locales– that I hope to inspire….”
It’s funny how little we think of digestion. Like many of the automatic processes we have, we don’t pay much attention to it until something goes wrong. I seriously never appreciated my intestines until my friend had to get 2/3rds of hers removed due to Crohn’s disease. I take it for granted that I will eat, digest, and process each meal without a thought or care in the world. It will just happen.
This reminds of another aspect of my life that I am challenged to take care of: slowing down to breathe deeply and stretch more often each day. Taking these moments for myself is vital for longevity.
So my challenge to myself is to SLOW DOWN. Chew, breathe, stretch… and get a massage this week. What about you?