Do you remember your dining room or kitchen table when you were a kid? Do you remember where everyone sat? Yeah, me too. Do you remember the feeling you had at these dinners? Yeah, me too. In my case, it wasn’t a good feeling. In fact, if I had to give a color to describe those feelings it would be black.
Meal times in my family of origin were dark times for me. This is when and where my stepfather chose to ‘discuss’ my brother and I. During dinner we heard how stupid we were – his favorite phrase was “idiot” when describing us. We were dismissed for stupid ideas, bad politics, poorly formulated replies. Well, you get the picture. It wasn’t a picnic to say the least, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that my brother and I have had digestive problems for years.
I soon began to look forward to meals alone when I could simply be without any feelings of anger, angst or anxiety. As a result I am one of those few people who doesn’t mind eating alone. It is a relaxing time for me rather than an anxious one.
Eating alone can be a wonderful time to just breathe and relax without the need for conversation or explanations. Many people dread eating alone and if you are one of them I am probably not going to convince you that it can be a way to lower your stress. However, for those who don’t mind, this can be a great way to get some time for yourself in the midst of your busy day and yes, lower your stress.
Regardless of your dining proclivities, here is some good news and a tip that I wish I had known years ago. Before, during and after your meal take some deep breaths. The addition of deep breathing will send more oxygen to your digestive system so it works better. It will lower your stress levels while increasing your mindfulness and it will allow you to savor each bite rather than rushing through it to finish quickly. Eating too fast and eating while stressed can add on the pounds very quickly by slowing your digestive metabolism to a crawl.
So eat, breathe and be merry these days…your body and mind will thank you.