I try to feed and nourish my family by providing the best nutrition I can. So how do we provide the best nutrition, for ourselves and our families?
Many of us try to buy the very best real food we can afford. And there is some wonderful real food out there, full of taste and nutrients. In particular, a nice cut of grassfed meat is a nutritional treasure. But buying great food is only part of the process.
I have spent years learning how to cook real food and grassfed meat in particular, perfecting many traditional and delicious ways to cook it. But knowing how to cook real food and grassfed meat is also only part of the process.
There is a third and vital part of the process of enjoying good nutrition, one that our ancestors knew and honored. One that has been largely forgotten and ignored in our modern world. One that takes time, but provides many benefits. One that helps our bodies absorb the nutrients in the food we eat, and aids digestion. After all, even the best food, perfectly cooked, will do us little good unless our bodies absorb and digest the nutrients in the food.
That is the old custom of savoring the food we eat, as we eat it.
What Is Savoring Food?
Savoring food can best be described as the practice of eating slowly, chewing the food thoroughly, taking small breaks from eating to talk and enjoy the companionship of the table, and giving full attention to how delicious the food tastes as we eat it. Doing this is one of the greatest pleasures in life, when you are eating good food.
Savoring food is the opposite of what so many people do at mealtimes, which is to give a chew or two, gulp down the food as fast as possible, and have a short, hurried meal, usually thinking about anything other than the food that is being eaten. Not only is the modern fast meal stressful, it has a very bad effect on our ability to absorb the nutrients in the food we eat, and can lead to a host of digestive difficulties and even disease.
The Benefits of Savoring Food
A wonderful benefit of savoring food is the great taste sensation. When we obey the laws of our own bodies, we are often rewarded by feelings of enjoyment and pleasure, which are great to experience. I contend that the full taste of even the most delicious food is not enjoyed unless the food is slowly and thoroughly chewed, with attention devoted to how good it tastes. It is then that you get the full enjoyment of the wonderful tastes of perfectly cooked grassfed meat, or other real food, which is a true pleasure. Many subtle nuances of taste and texture appear that are not noticed if you just gulp the food after a fast chew or two. I am convinced that the pleasure obtained from savoring wonderful food also helps our digestion and absorption, as the natural processes of our bodies always work better when we are happy and relaxed, and enjoying ourselves.
Another huge benefit of savoring food is to start the digestive process as we chew our food. The saliva in our mouth contains digestive enzymes which are meant to mix with the food and start the digestive process. Gulping food prevents this natural and vital process from taking place. Our digestive systems were not meant to break down big chunks of gulped food, and have a hard time doing so. Gulping down chunks of food can actually result in choking, and people have actually died from it. Slowly chewing each bite of food until it is broken down into small easily digested pieces presents the food to your digestive system as it was intended to receive it, which greatly increases the absorption of nutrients and aids digestion. The slow and thorough chewing of food also allows the enzymes in your saliva to mix with and predigest the food, which also helps the process. Some nutrients are absorbed directly through the mouth in this process. When I chew a bite of grassfed steak into tiny shreds, I get a wonderful feeling of contentment and satisfaction, as my body absorbs some of the nutrients. Taking small breaks from eating to talk also helps the digestive process, as it gives time for our bodies to process the incoming food at a natural pace.
There is a third major benefit, one that will appeal to many. When you slowly and thoroughly chew and swallow your food, you are getting more nutrients, which means you are satisfied with less food, and will naturally eat less. The very process of thorough chewing takes time, and this also seems to reduce the appetite. The opposite is also true, as when you gulp down barely chewed food, you do not get the nutrients that are normally absorbed in the mouth, and the difficulty of breaking down the chunks means your body takes much longer to get the nutrients, which makes you want to overeat. In other words, savoring your food can help you lose weight.
The fourth major benefit is one most people never think of, but is important. Our bodies are not designed to gulp big chunks like a snake, but to digest thoroughly chewed food. If you gulp food, your teeth and jaws are not being used the way nature intended, which weakens not only the muscles, but the bone structure of your teeth and jaws. Thoroughly chewing food gives your jaw and mouth muscles the exercise they need, and this exercise helps make the bones in this area stronger as well.
The Tradition of Savoring Food
When enough food was available, many of our ancestors would enjoy meals served in many courses, eaten slowly. Dinners like this could easily take hours. In fact, eating long, slow dinners has been an honored tradition in relatively modern times, especially in France, Italy, and Spain, and many other countries. Very often the first course served would be a soup, usually made with rich broth, which is known to aid the digestion of more solid foods. Many cultures would have soup available throughout the entire meal, for the same purpose. In Western cultures, people were expected to be relaxed and friendly at the dinner table, avoiding controversial subjects, because it was known that peace and relaxation aided the digestive process. The order in which various foods were served was based on tradition and experience, and a whole evening could be spent eating such a meal. Our ancestors might not have understood exactly how our organs and natural functions digest food, but they certainly understood what aided digestion.
But What Can We Do in Modern Times?
The sad truth is that most of us are so busy that we just do not feel that we have the time to cook, let alone eat a long meal with distinct courses. Many people quickly gulp down factory food for most of their meals, never realizing what they are missing and how this hurts their bodies. No wonder drugs to deal with stomach and digestive problems sell so well. Even if you have real food, gulping it down is a real disadvantage.
I would like to say that I have plenty of time for each meal, but I do not always feel that way. So I have reached a compromise, which is to purchase the best real food, especially grassfed meat, that I can afford, carefully prepare it, and serve a nice variety of food at once, including broth. I will take the time to thoroughly chew each piece of food, especially meat, until it has been reduced to shreds. I will swallow it slowly, no gulping allowed. I must confess that this does make meals take longer, but the rewards are immense. And I must confess that sometimes I do not follow my own rules and eat too fast, especially when time is short.
But the more I take the time to savor my food, the better I like it.
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