Soul Sculpting Project: The How of Eating: Part Two
It’s Not Just What We Eat. It’s How We Eat.
You are participating a psychology experiment. You just had a blood draw to measure your ghrelin response (a peptide produced in your gut to tell you when we are full). Now you are sitting at a table with a drink clearly labeled as a 620 calorie ‘indulgent’ milkshake. You drink your shake and then get another blood draw. You have had a deep decline in gut ghrelin giving you a feeling of being full and satisfied.
A week later you return to the experiment, get another blood draw to measure gut ghrelin and then sit down. This time the drink on the table is clearly labeled as a 140 calorie ‘sensible’ milkshake. You drink your shake and then get another blood draw. This time your gut ghrelin has a flat response giving you a feeling of not being full and satisfied.
Your ghrelin response seems perfectly normal. After a 620 calorie drink you are full and after a 140 calorie drink you are still hungry –
– except for the fact that the labels were tampered with (you are in a psychology experiment) and both drinks were identical 380 calorie drinks.
In this study, known as Mind Over Milkshakes, researchers found that our thoughts about food, not just the nutrients, determine ghrelin response. ( Crum, A. J., Corbin, W. R., Brownell, K. D., & Salovey, 2011)
- Feeling full and satisfied depends more on what we think about the food than the actual nutritional value of the food.
I make up stories about my food. I tell myself how nutritious it is, or isn’t. I tell myself how much I will need to eat to feel full.
I would like to think that all the stories I tell are true, but they are not. Like the milkshakes, some stories I tell myself are fiction. What kind of stories do you tell yourself about food.?
In our current Soul Sculpting Project we are playing with the topic of eating. There’s plenty of talk about what to eat, but I am suggesting that how we eat is just as – or even more – important than what we eat.
In The How of Eating: Part 0ne we worked on #1 Attention and #2 Pleasure, in Part Two our first project will work on how we #3 Think about our food.
Soul Sculpting Project #3: The How of Story Telling:
Pick one meal or snack a day to:
Notice the story we are telling ourselves about our food. Awareness of the stories is the first step.
Then make up a better story, if needed.
And then there is eating with stress.
Better a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. (Proverbs 17:1)
Science refresher: Our sympathetic nervous action system helps us handle the important events of life. It gears us up for action. This system is known for its fight, flight, tend and befriend skills.
Our parasympathetic at-ease system helps us handle every-day life. It dials us down to be at ease. This system is known for its rest and digest skills. Notice that word digest?
Stress comes in many forms. We may be fearful and frustrated or delighted and excited. Any form will turn on our sympathetic nervous action system and thus turn off our parasympathetic at-ease system.
I got married 40+ years ago, to my awesome husband, and for our reception we had a potluck. I love potluck food so I filled my plate full. Then I sat down at our table and realized that there was no way I was going to eat that meal. My sympathetic action system was in full gear and my parasympathetic rest and digest system was nowhere in sight.
When we eat with stress – positive or negative – we create digestive shutdown. A stressed body does not consider digestion a priority.
When we are stressed the enzymes in our saliva that breakdown food are reduced and blood flow to the small intestine is also reduced by up to 4 times.
God designed us to eat with pleasure and without stress.
Soul Sculpting Project 4: The How of Digestion:
Pick one meal or snack a day to:
Turn on your parasympathetic rest and digest system as you begin your meal and maintain for 2 minutes. ( It can take 90 seconds to clear out your system from the action chemicals, so give this a bit of time.)
Tip: The easiest way I turn on my rest and digest system is by taking long, slow breaths. The long, slow exhale is especially helpful.
The stories we tell ourselves about our food effects our gut chemistry.
Stress turns off our ability to digest our food well.
May we eat at-ease and tell good stories about our food this week.
So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)