We’ve all been there: you’ve managed to round up the girls for your monthly meet up at the hottest brunch spot, you’ve had the catch ups, ordered the obligatory coffees and the food is on the way… it’s what great weekends are made of.
The food arrives, you pick up your cutlery to dig in and all of a sudden: “STOP!” What could have possibly happened? Is there a hair in your food? Did your bestie see the waiter spit in your beloved brunch?
Nope that’s right, the resident photographer has to snap a photograph. ”Don’t touch that food! I have to get a photo for Instagram.” There is one in every group of friends, if not two or three. OK, I admit it, it’s definitely me at the very least.
However, is there logic to this insanity? Well yes, from a nutritionist point of view there actually is. At a very basic level, pausing to Instagram your meal means you do exactly that: you pause. Too often, we spend our time scrolling through our phone, talking to our other half while shovelling Rice Krispies into our mouth. In turn, taking time out to eat has become a luxury rather than a necessity.
Stopping to look at, and appreciate the food you are about to consume is important on a number of different levels. Here comes the science…
This process prepares what is called your ‘cephalic phase digestive response’ (CPDR), which is critical to healthy digestion. Simply put, it prepares your body for food. This phase occurs when a sensory stimulus provokes a digestion-related response in the body. This stimulus can include sights, sounds, odour, tastes and textures, associated with foods and even thoughts of food.
The act of taking a moment to pause and take a picture literally gives your body a chance to catch up to the fact it’s going to get something very delicious to eat very shortly. This is helpful because it encourages us to produce more saliva. Saliva helps us break down our food and is full of digestive enzymes that start to chemically break down the macronutrients in food. It also sends important messages to the brain to let us know when we are full, which is critical to avoid overeating.
The act of thinking about our food is literally the very start of the digestive process – something we so often overlook, but something that is critical to the overall digestion of our food in order for us to ensure we are getting all the essential nutrients we need from our diet.
Taking a few minutes to be mindful about what you are going to be eating can be such a simple and effective way to improve overall digestion and help symptoms such as bloating, or feeling really tired after a big meal.
The act of thinking about what you are going to eat before you eat also sets us up to be more mindful during the eating process. Chewing slowly and multiple times are such simple, yet effective techniques to aid the overall digestive process that we so often overlook.
Simply put, more time chewing means less work for your tummy – remember your stomach does not have teeth!
So am I encouraging you to start Instagramming your food? No probably not, but maybe next time your friend takes out her phone to get snap-happy on social media you might be a little bit more patient and take those precious few minutes to really prepare your body for that delicious meal you are about to enjoy.
Here’s hoping it’s as yummy as it looks!
Lauren (AKA the Nutritionist Foodie)