Sit, Eat, and Talk [Part 2]
This is part 2 of a 2 part series.
I am not going to belabor this point simply because this is the ONE point that most everyone agrees on. We need to eat more healthful foods to be healthier. HOW healthy you need to eat is where opinions get loud. Also, we get loud about WHAT is healthy. It is a heavily touted topic in the media. It is literally obsessed over, and stands are made that can make us feel like losers or idiots regardless of how disciplined we may have become in our eating habits.
My personal soapbox is "moderation." I eat mostly fresh, whole, raw foods. But I also eat bread, butter, pizza, burgers, etc. It is my personal habit that if I eat at, say McDonald's, I order a plain hamburger, small kids-sized fry, and a small diet coke, no ice. I throw one of the slices of the bun out and find myself more than satisfied. I do not do this daily. But I will eat this way a couple times in a month without fear or guilt.
I think a good place to start learning about better nutritional choices is with a program called Eat This Not That. (@eatthisnotthat on Twitter) I also value Weight Watchers as an excellent education program. For me, I did a lot of growing and morphing in my foodie education as I lost over 60 pounds in the course of 3 years. Some people might need to lose 60 pounds in a few months. It is not the healthiest way, but set your goals and go for it. Whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP!!
Okay. In part one I said we would bring up the couch again, so here it is. Meals eaten on a couch with or without the family present is not how food is supposed to be eaten. It fosters laziness and depression simultaneously, and does not allow your brain or digestive tract to do their jobs. I grew up with eating a meal involving family conversation. At breakfast it may have only been me eating while my mom bustled around the kitchen, but we were talking. Lunch, of course, was at school, and I LOVED that time of day with my friends! Dinner included every member of our family around the table. No exceptions. BOTH parents and all three children. Through our teens this remained mandatory. As autonomous adults we are STILL called to my mother's table once a week, and the wrath is great enough that if we MUST miss, we sit through our business meetings with that familiar knot in our stomach that we acquired as sixteen year olds, knowing the present pleasure will NOT be worth the soon to ensue wrath.
Sitting down to eat together was moved to the top of my priorities list as this past summer ended in my own household. My children and I did not sit together for a meal nearly as often as was needed. I don't always enjoy every meal since we have been living out my dreams of familial meals, but nothing is easy at first. My kids were not used to deferring to the other sibling in conversations. If they are tense, I'm tense. But after nearly three months we are getting better at it, and we are all enjoying it a little more each time. It is my earnest hope that by the time they are in college I will have mastered whatever that "look" is that my mother gives if we so much as insinuate we might not make a meal. I can already tell I am going to need that "look."
Again, as with sitting versus lying or slouching, your brain gets bossy to all your bodily functions when you eat your meal in an upright position, WITH other people, as you talk to each other.
Additionally, our moods are affected by brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Among the more important ones are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, melatonin, insulin, and prostaglandins. The first one that should pop out at you is insulin. Over 25,000,000 Americans have diabetes. That is 8.3% of our population! Our moods are GREATLY affected by insulin. Besides what you put in your mouth, you can help balance insulin levels by involving yourself in healthy communication! Serotonin is another one that you should be aware of your ability to contribute to its production. It helps give you a sense of control. It is also related to memory, sexual function, social behaviors, and the ability to learn. And GUESS where this important neurotransmitter MUST have ease of freedom to do its job in your body... IN YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT!! Ninety percent of it is synthesized there, and this feel-good chemical's release is connected to healthy communication.
The command station of your brain works best in a social environment. These amazing chemicals mentioned help ward off depression. These neurotransmitters are triggered by being with people and talking, sharing, listening, and loving. People who are married live longer than single people. People who are members of churches, synagogues and clubs also live longer, healthier lives. People who beat cancer tend to have strong social ties. Talking with people while you eat a meal makes your brain a very happy manager indeed!
Sit, Eat, and Talk
When you sit at a table for a healthful meal with people and talk during the meal, your brain sends out an ARMY of workers! It is amazing!
Your eyes say, "Look at that food!"
Your nose says, "Smells delish!"
Your brain says, "CLEARLY our human is about to eat because they are sitting upright." And then he bellows down to your midsection, "Open up the chemical supply! We've got to break this food down into fuel for all of us!"
Then you start talking and listening, and your brain exclaims, "Good gracious! Dopamine! Get yourself and all those touchy-feely buddies of yours out here!"
It does not take very long for you to go through these motions and create these habits. Sitting to eat healthful, portioned foods, while talking with people, will start helping your body feel better for you!
When your body feels better, your dreams feel attainable! When your body feels better, your spouse looks more attractive! When your body feels better, you have more self confidence!
What an amazing body God created for us to inhabit!
Le Muser; Denée Richardson
~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.