The Most Important Thing to Do Before You Eat

Would you like to learn one simple practice that will:

* Improve your digestion?
* Accelerate your metabolism?
* Help your body absorb nutrients more effectively? (Translation: feel energized and strong instead of lethargic.)
* Reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels so you sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed?
* Make your food taste even better? More flavor. More deliciousness. More satisfaction from every bite.

There’s an easy (but effective) thing to do that provides all of those health benefits—and more.

What is it?

No, it’s not a vitamin or supplement or protein powder.

It’s a habit, the habit of slowing down and fully engaging all of your senses—touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste—before you sit down for a meal.

Woman eating tiramisu.

What Happens When We Gulp Our Food Down?

Most people eat in a very rushed and distracted manner. Eating in the car. Eating on the run. Eating quickly in front of the computer or TV. Gulping down a latte or munching a scone while power walking from the market to the bank. We’re barely even conscious of what we’re swallowing!

Unfortunately, when you eat in this way, two things happen:

One, you don’t experience as much pleasure from your meal because your attention is diluted and stretched in too many directions. So, even if you’re eating a rich and decadent treat (like chocolate mousse) it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it could. You’re not getting even close to the full flavor potential!

And two, when you rush through your meal or eat distractedly, your body is placed into a state of mild stress. This elevates your cortisol levels, which then negatively impacts your digestion, metabolism, immune system, and more.

Try Mindful Eating

For your next meal or snack, choose to eat differently.

  1. Take two minutes (really, that’s all it takes!) to get settled and become mentally present before that first bite.
  2. Turn on your senses, one by one.
  • Touch — Touch the smooth silver fork. Touch the crusty bread and crack it open. Touch the soft napkin on your lap.
  • Sight — Admire the gorgeous colors on your plate—red beets, orange carrots, purple cabbage, slices of velvety green avocado. Soak it in.
  • Hearing — Notice the sounds in your environment. The soft music from your speakers. The hum of a delivery truck whirring by outside. The kids laughing in the yard next door. Maybe even some sizzling and crackling coming from the hot food on your plate.
  • Smell — Inhale the aromas deeply. Notice how your mouth begins to water. Breathe it in.
  • Taste — Now, take that first bite. Roll the flavors around on your tongue. Chew slowly. Savor it like it’s a precious gift because it is—a beautiful gift you’re giving to your body. Pleasure and nourishment. Delivered with love!

When you experience food like this—with your senses fully engaged, slowly, mindfully, savoring each bite—not only will your meal taste way better, but your body actually processes it differently. You absorb more nutrients, getting even more health benefits from each mouthful.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this habit will change your body, your health, and your life.

Try this by yourself—and teach these habits to your family. Do it together. Slow down and turn on your senses before every meal. Make mealtime special—not a frantic experience.

This is a free, life-enhancing practice that truly changes your entire day. Because when you open the door and become present in one area of your life, it magically unlocks the power to become present in ALL areas of your life!

Robin Rothenberg, Interoception, Breathing practices, YogaUOnline presenter

Reprinted with permission from Elise
Elise Museles

Elise Museles is a certified eating psychology and nutrition expert, creator of the Food Story Method and platform, and host of the popular podcast Once Upon a Food Story. As an author, speaker, and mind-body eating coach, Elise’s mission is to empower people to create a healthier relationship with food and their bodies by changing what’s on their plate—and what’s in their minds. For more, visit or check out her new book Food Story: Rewrite the Way You Eat, Think, and Live.

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