Are you tired all the time? Struggle to focus on a single task? Do you ever feel like you barely have the energy to get through the day?
It’s a common complaint; many of us seem to be burning the candle at both ends. Rushing from one thing to the next, barely taking a moment to stop and eat. Oh wait…. maybe there is something to that?
At the most basic, and deepest level, low energy is due to your cells not getting the nutrients they need to function. The mitochondria are hungry. (Remember high school biology? The mitochondria are where ATP is made.) When the mitochondria are hungry, they can’t make adequate levels of ATP and therefore you don’t have any fuel to keep you going.
What does it take to make ATP? Nutrients. Simple as that. But here is the kicker it actually isn’t just about what you eat, but how. Frankly, it doesn’t matter one iota if you eat a perfect diet if you eat that perfect diet on the go.
Most of us don’t take much time to eat. We eat on the run, in the car, sitting at our desk, anywhere but at a table without distraction. We tend to think of digestion as something that just happens, automatic, something that doesn’t even deserve our attention. We can save the time for one of our to-do list items. Because we are always looking to cut corners and save time, right? I mean, who has time to eat?
Here is where the rubber meets the road. If we don’t take time to sit down and eat a nourishing meal at a table, without distraction and slowly, we can’t assimilate those nutrients. Think of the entire digestive system as one long series of dominoes and if you throw off those first few dominoes at the very beginning (not chewing, eating distracted) then the rest of the dominoes won’t fall into place either. If those first dominoes don’t fall correctly, digestion is wonky the whole way down and we ultimately aren’t able to absorb the nutrients we need. If we can’t absorb the nutrients from our food, then we can’t make the energy we need to get through the day. So, we’re tired.
Digestion is at the core of our health. Every chronic condition can be traced back to some form of digestive imbalance. Chronic fatigue, mental illness, joint pain, headaches, skin rashes, hormone imbalances, autoimmunity, cancer, diabetes, everything has roots in digestion because everything has roots in nutrient deficiencies. Every function, every cell in our body relies on nutrients. The good news is we have the power to turn the tide and change it with our very next meal.
Certainly, there are often more factors at play as to why you are low on energy. But if you never stop to focus on ensuring your body is getting the fuel it needs, you’re just going to be running in circles.
For your next meal, I challenge you to sit at a table, without any electronic devices and chew your food. Take a moment before the meal and say a few words of gratitude, maybe even take a few deep breaths. Then, take your first bite, and set down your fork before you take your next bite. Chew the bite of food 15-30 times. Not because there is a right number of chews, but just to bring awareness to how long food sits in your mouth typically and what it feels like to chew food longer than that. See if you can keep it in your mouth until it becomes a fine paste. Finally, swallow and notice how the food travels down your esophagus. Do you notice any movement or sounds from your digestive system? Pay attention to how your body is reacting to the food.
After the meal, take note if anything feels different. Are certain digestive symptoms missing after a slower meal? How is your energy? How is your focus?
I’ll be honest slowing my meals down is something I am constantly having to remind myself of. This is a continual work in progress. Maybe for you this is just another reminder to slow down too. In our go-go-go society, it is easy to get caught up in the pace of life and forget our bodies weren’t actually designed for such a fast-paced world. This week, be a rebel and go slow. Your body will thank you.