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When it comes to our health how we eat matters as much as what we eat. In this fast moving age, fast food is increasingly becoming a staple diet for many, and fast eating has become a common practice.
Eating while standing or while rushing to your next chore is termed as ‘mindless’ eating, because we have no thought or respect for what we are eating or putting in our bodies while rushing. Eating while standing or eating in a hurry can result in consuming more than our body requires. While we are sitting down and eating, our body knows when to stop. It is very important to note that how we eat affects our body and our health. The popular saying ‘we are what we eat’ can also be coined as ‘we are how we eat’.
Until a decade ago, in many Indian households sitting down on the floor while eating was the custom. While some still follow this practice, majority of us have adapted to using the dining tables. In some cases, even standing and eating, which in fact are catching up in many metropolises, as finding a place to sit becomes harder.
How does sitting down to eat make a difference?
When we sit down on the floor the cross-legged pose which we take aids digestion. In yoga, this pose is called sukhasana or half padmasna, which makes one calmer and slightly more conscious. It is believed that when one sits in this pose in front of food it automatically signals our brain to prepare for digestion.
Besides that having a plate on the floor naturally tends to make us bend forward and back for every mouthful. This movement causes the muscles in our abdomen to be activated which helps in increased secretion of stomach acids – making it easier to digest food.
Here are few health benefits of sitting on the floor to eat:
Sitting on the floor to eat can be a great way to lose weight or rather help maintain the ideal weight. Because this position helps us control the amount of food we eat and make us feel full faster. How does that work? Well, since sitting down contracts the muscles in the abdomen, the vagus nerve – the nerve that transmits signals from the stomach to the brain – informs your brain that we are full, thereby preventing overeating and bingeing. Plus, this position makes us eat slower than we would while standing or sitting on a table.
Makes Us More Flexible
In this position the muscles in our lower back, pelvis, around our stomach and those of the upper and lower abdomen stretch. This in turn helps our digestive system relax and stay in a normal position. Moreover, this position does not compress your stomach in helping us eat and digest better. The regular stretching of these essential muscles also helps us more flexible and healthy. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that people who sat on the floor in padmasana were able to get up without any support were more likely to live longer.
Not only does this position help us focus on our food, but it also helps us make better choices when we eat. How? Well, since our mind is calmer and our body ready to accept nutrition, sitting on the floor is the best way to eat the right amount and right kinds of food. It is believed in Ayurveda that when we our minds is calmer we tend to be better position to concentrate on every aspect of the food – its smell, taste, texture and so on – thus making enjoy our food more.
Strengthens the Heart
It is common knowledge that eating increases our body heat, as it requires more energy to burn the food. This is why sometimes we feel warmer and in some cases even sweat. To keep up with this process, our heart works overtime to help out our digestive system. When our feet are below our heart, as in when sitting on a chair, the blood circulation is being directed to your feet, as opposed to when we sit cross-legged on the floor where your heart receives the benefit of better circulation. Thus, sitting on the floor and eating, gives us a healthy heart with strong muscles to help it cope with the pressures of daily life.
It’s easy to get in to habits and forget about little things that can make a big difference in our lives. This small change in our eating can bring us more benefits than we can imagine. After all, eating is one of few activities that we all love and relish. Next time when it’s time to sit, how about considering sitting down on the floor?