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Reviving Lost Traditions: The Impact of Extended Mealtimes and Rest Periods on Digestion

Woman savoring meal

In a time when convenience reigns supreme, it's easy to overlook the value of slow, mindful eating. We live in a world where meals are often consumed on the go, where drive-thrus and microwave meals have replaced family dinners, and where 'eating' is often sandwiched between endless to-dos. However, have we ever paused to consider the toll this high-speed lifestyle is taking on our bodies,

especially our digestive system?

In stark contrast to our current fast-paced dining culture, many traditional societies treat meals as ceremonies. The preparation and consumption of food are interwoven with ample time, care, and mindfulness. These extended mealtimes, coupled with a period of rest afterward, serve a purpose far beyond social connection—they're designed in harmony with our body's digestion rhythms.

The Digestion Symphony: Why Rushing Won't Help

Our digestive system, in essence, is a carefully-tuned orchestra. It begins with the anticipation of eating, often triggered by the sight, smell, or thought of food. This phase, known as the cephalic phase of digestion, prepares our bodies for the meal to come. Enzymes are secreted, gastric juices start flowing, and the entire gastrointestinal tract readies itself to receive, break down, and absorb nutrients from the food we consume.

However, this preparation takes time and a state of relaxation. In the hurry to finish meals and rush back to work or other duties, we often bypass this crucial phase of digestion. This can result in inadequate secretion of digestive enzymes, leading to poorly-digested food and a myriad of discomforts such as bloating, gas, and heartburn.

The Art of Slow Eating and Resting

By extending our mealtimes and allowing a rest period afterward, we give our bodies the time it needs to fully digest and absorb the nutrients from our meals. Eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and savoring our food help initiate a more efficient digestive process. Following up with a period of rest, rather than rushing into physical activity or stressful work, allows our bodies to focus energy on digestion.

The results? Better digestion, more effective nutrient absorption, increased satisfaction from our meals, and fewer digestive discomforts.

Embracing the Old Ways in Our Modern Lives

Reviving the tradition of extended mealtimes and rest periods may seem challenging in our modern, fast-paced world. However, it is possible, and the rewards for your digestive health and overall well-being are worth the effort. Start with small changes, such as dedicating at least 20-30 minutes for each meal, free from distractions. Practice mindful eating, focusing on the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food. And finally, allow yourself a few minutes of rest post-meal, even if it's just a quiet moment with a cup of tea.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can tailor your eating habits to support optimal digestion,

Together, we can navigate your journey toward a healthier and happier you through the power of mindful eating and restful periods.

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