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  • Writer's pictureElisa Juarez

Small Bites

November 4, 2021

Don’t you love this season of holiday baking, cooking, and celebrating? It’s cold and rainy here today, and I am diffusing cinnamon and clove essential oils. Anticipation fills the air as well, as this year our family will be able to gather for Thanksgiving! My sister-in-law is a personal chef and offered to host and cook; the girls and I will do the baking. This past summer I listened to an online docuseries about digestive health and picked up some valuable tips. I learned the phrase “Rest and digest” which is a reminder to slow down, breathe, and chew our food completely. In fact, we should chew each bite until it becomes liquid in the mouth, thereby activating the necessary digestive enzymes. I began to practice this and was amazed by how much longer it took me to finish my meal. I started taking smaller bites that wouldn’t take as long to chew and ended up eating less. Not only did it help my digestion, it made me more aware of my body and the experience of eating. The other night I lay awake around 3:00 a.m., and per usual my brain became overrun with thoughts. As I tried to control the circus and bring my attention back to the pillow, the words “small bites” came to me. I realized that I was mentally biting off more than I could chew, not just in the night but in the day. In order to be productive and effective, I needed to focus my time and attention on what was currently on my plate. By taking smaller bites, breathing deeply, and relaxing, I could complete the tasks before me with greater ease. I could savor and digest what life is dishing up in this season. “Rest and digest” applies not only to eating, but to living well. When we relax and focus in the present moment, we actually become more productive. This is the perfect season for a mindfulness practice that will ease our digestion. We have a smorgasbord of foods, tasks, and experiences before us, intermingled with memories and traditions. We will need to become more aware of our bodies, thoughts, and emotions as we fill our plates. What and how will we choose to consume, savor, and share? My challenge lately has been that even as I chew my small bites, my mind tries to feed me spoonfuls of self-doubt, like maybe I’m not doing enough or should be doing something different. Imagine eating the plate you’ve created from the buffet, all the while thinking about what you didn’t get or what you want from the dessert bar? How can you enjoy and digest your meal that way? Add to that all the noise, tension, and confusion around us these days. It’s like being in a large, loud dining hall filled with people and activity while trying to relax and eat. It can be overwhelming and upset our digestion. Can you relate? We need to cultivate a calm and nourishing environment within and around us. Small bites, like small steps, keep us grounded in the present moment while we move forward. I tend to get ahead of myself by being impatient or ingesting too much at once. This is a risk for all of us during the holidays, so I invite you to join me in a “rest and digest” practice as you eat, work, plan, prepare, and shop. Take small bites. Breathe, focus, relax, and chew. Smile, give thanks, and savor it all. Discover peace and presence in a world that teases and tempts us to overindulge, overcommit, and overdo everything. Cheers & Chews, ej Elisa J. Juarez


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