Consultations

CONSCIOUS EATING

A System for Maximum Energy and Healing

By Lino Stanchich

The key for a healthy and happy life is right under our noses, three times a day! The answer to life’s problems are often simple and in plain view, but many of us are often blinded by our attitude, habits, and way of thinking. Global health is in crisis.  Yet there is a better way, globally, and at our own tables. Therefore, I want to share time-honored science, ancient wisdom, and personal experience, to hopefully inspire you to add a simple, yet powerful eating technique I call “Conscious  Eating,” to benefit your daily life. In my forty years as a macrobiotic teacher and counselor, with intent observation and personal experience, “what” we eat and “how” we eat profoundly affects us emotionally,  mentally,  and physically.  In addition,  our thoughts, behavior, sex life, relationships,  and even our spirituality are deeply influenced by our diet and the manner in which we eat.

Conscious Eating helps save the earth and environment as well. If we are to nurture ourselves, prevent starvation, and preserve our planet, we must adopt a way of eating that is ecological,  healthful,  non-violent,  economical,  and strengthening. I have discovered, as have thousands, that the delicious  plant-based macrobiotic organic diet supplies all these criteria, while satisfying the taste buds as well. Whether your choice of diet is vegan, vegetarian, or macrobiotic, it is imperative to learn how to eat these foods in an optimum manner for maximum digestion and assimilation. The main reason for my writing this article is to help you, no matter what diet you choose, to derive the most energy, pleasure, health, and healing from the foods you eat.  The macrobiotic view is indeed “The Larger View of Life,” and when properly practiced and eaten, is truly the optimum lifestyle for personal and planetary health.

How we eat is as important as what we eat. Each year I become more and more dedicated to the practice of Macrobiotics and Conscious Eating that includes thorough chewing and abdominal breathing. Each day, I eat one or two meals at which I practice Conscious Eating. Other meals may be social and I chew the best I can. Conscious Eating is so valuable for me now and it literally saved my life as a youth, as I wrote in my book Power Eating Program, You Are How You Eat. I continue to practice this healing and life-saving way of eating. The food tastes more delicious  and we become more nutritionally satisfied when we chew well. Conscious Eating energizes and revitalizes my body and life.   Chewing well balances my blood sugar, creates inner calm, reduces sweet cravings, and increases my intuition , mental clarity, virility,  and vitality.  It can have the same effect on you.

In my macrobiotic profession,  I have counseled thousands of people, many who had previously tried numerous diets. After learning the macrobiotic dietary principles  and how to eat in a conscious manner, they began to improve, transform, and heal, often from “terminal” illnesses.  Common digestive ailments also diminish and disappear. Conscious Eating is worth it. Eating in this manner can be pleasant and social, when we eat alone or with loved ones in a calm, not chaotic or negative atmosphere. We can still speak at meals, hopefully about pleasant and positive subjects, while chewing well. I have even developed beautiful,  inspiring  audio tapes to help relax and create healing mealtimes. As you will discover, chewing well is a challenge, yet is definitely a practice that is simple, free of charge, and deeply rewarding.

Many of the world’s greatest inspirational figures emphasized conscious eating with slow, careful chewing. Among them were Jesus Christ, who said “Chew well your food with your teeth that it becomes water, and that the angel of water turn it into blood in your body. And eat slowly, as if it were a prayer you make to the Lord.” Leonardo Da Vinci, the Renaissance genius and vegetarian, also recommended this practice. “Chew your drink and drink your food.” was a tenet spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, the renowned and courageous Indian leader.

Chewing well saved my life. I learned about this simple, yet profound practice from my father, who survived two years in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, enduring great hardship and malnutrition.  While  a prisoner under harsh conditions of cold weather and a starvation diet, he discovered that if he chewed his meager food and even water 150 or more times a mouthful, that he had more energy, warmth, stamina, and it increased his hope and courage.

When my father returned home to us after the war, he shared his experience and told me, “If you ever feel weak, are sick, cold, desperate or afraid, chew your food 150 times or more.” At the time, there was peace and plenty, yet a few years later, at age 17, I too became a political prisoner and was sentenced to two years of hard labor in a communist concentration camp in Yugoslavia. There, like my father, I experienced hunger, cold, and misery. His teachings of Conscious Eating and maintaining a good posture were of immense help and not only did I survive, but I developed greater mental and spiritual strengths to carry me, with faith and confidence, into adulthood.

SIMPLE WAYS TO PRACTICE CONSCIOUS EATING
Chewing well has such enormous health benefits!  The more you chew, the true flavor of the food increases. Also, we are more satisfied because we are deriving more nutrients out of the food. Therefore, we are satisfied with less food. Also, sweet cravings diminish because the food becomes sweeter. As an added benefit, you can control your weight easier. Here are my basic suggestions for thorough chewing:

  1. Sit down to your meal in a peaceful, quiet place.
  2. Sit with good posture and breathe abdominally.
  3. Avoid reading, watching television, or negative conversations.
  4. Using a clock, timer, or audio-tape as a friendly guide for chewing.
  5. Begin with approximately 20 seconds  (about 25 chews)
  6. Increase gradually from 40 seconds to one minute (about 75 chews)
  7. If you are healing or seeking transformation, chew 150 plus.

(Excerpt from Power Eating Program, You Are How You Eat by Lino Stanchich.)

In my mid 30’s I discovered and eagerly adopted the macrobiotic lifestyle. My Japanese macrobiotic teachers, Michio and Aveline Kushi, Herman and Cornelia Aihara, Naboru Muramoto and Shizuko Yamamoto, all emphasized the vital importance of Conscious Eating,  especially  thorough chewing. Macrobiotic teachings recommend chewing each mouthful a minimum of 50 times. You may begin chewing 25 times per mouthful, and increase the number gradually.  Naboru Muramoto writes that chewing 50 times per mouthful is the basic number of chews for good digestion; 100 times or more if one has a health problem; 200 times if you have a serious sickness.

In his book, Natural Immunity: Insights on Diet and Aids, Muramoto relates how Dr. Tomozaburo Ogata, professor at the School of Medicine at Tokyo University, discovered that chewing stimulates the production of parotin hormones. These strengthen all the cells in the body, promote rejuvenation, slow aging, and stimulate the thymus glands to produce T-cells that fight all diseases. Learning this was like lightening striking my brain, as it was then that I understood why even chewing water helped my father and me survive!

Traditional cultures throughout the world teach the importance of eating carefully and consciously.  Many of us heard such teachings at our own dining tables. How many times did our parents and grandparents intuitively encourage us to chew well? Of course, we did not want to and too often chose rather, to gulp our food quickly. We  really did not “sink our teeth” into that thorough chewing teaching, did we? Do we now? Thousands of students have attended our Macrobiotic Week-end Seminars where they learn all the basics of macrobiotics. I also teach Conscious Eating Techniques and thorough chewing at these seminars throughout the USA and Europe and am amazed at how many people, reformed “gulpers,” embrace the Conscious Eating practice. I even add special mealtime music highlighted with soft bells, healing affirmations,  and posture therapy to enhance the Conscious Eating experience.

I teach in Italy annually at Mediterranean seaside retreats, hosted by Martin and Rosey Halsey, where I offer special weekly classes in Do-In, macrobiotic theory, nutrition, and Conscious Eating, with conscious mealtime chewing and breathing. Imagine a large table of over twenty Italians all eating quietly,  calmly, and with gratitude and peace. The experience was very pleasurable and rewarding for me and, as they told me, for them, as well. Italians actually have a traditional motto, “Quando si mangia, non si parla,” which means, “When you eat, do not talk.”

Mom was right! Modern science is discovering that thorough chewing speeds healing. Proper diet, eating and chewing would diminish  the pain and suffering, as well as save billions of dollars annually spent on healthcare costs. Common digestive disorders such as acid-indigestion,  acid reflux, ulcers, irritable bowel, colitis, and cancer are directly improved with Conscious Eating techniques. Overweight and obesity are the result of choosing a poor diet, inadequate eating habits, and insufficient chewing.  We can make healthier choices.

If we grind and break down the morsels of food with our teeth, we are beginning essential digestion of food in our mouths, producing many essential enzymes. Saliva, called “Nectar of the Gods” by the ancient Chinese,  along with vital enzymes, mixes with our food, alkalinizing each mouthful before we swallow it into our stomach, where it is more efficiently digested and “burned.” According to Yogic teachings, this creates prana (life-force energy) and with each bite, valuable anti-aging  parotin hormones are interjected. Good chewers heal faster, live longer, and look younger!

In my opinion, when we chew over 150 plus times, food transmutes itself into whichever element our body needs. It also connects us to the energy of nature, God and the universe. The mouth is something like a nuclear reactor that can change one element into another.  Through the practice of conscious breathing, chewing and thinking,  we can change one biochemical element or hormone into another which is needed for the cells, glands and organs in our body. I know that to some people this might sound a bit radical, but I have experienced it many times. In the three-day seminar that I give once a month, I often see positive results in people after just one day, often with facial characteristics improving and digestive problems disappearing.

I liken chewing well to chopping kindling to stoke a fire and ignite the wood. Imagine trying to light a large log with a small match. This is what ordinary eating is. Gulping large “logs” of food produces the epidemic of modern digestive problems. Chewing-breathing is like chopping the log into kindling - chopping breaks down the wood, just as chewing breaks down the food. Consequently, with thorough chewing, we burn our food, quite literally, producing more powerful energy. We have two bodies – one is physical and the other is energetic. Conscious Eating, with the right positive mental attitude, gives you increased energy, proportionately to how much you chew. It is as simple as that.  The result is vitality, health, clearer thinking and a more fulfilled life.

All foods, especially carbohydrates, begin the process of digestion in the mouth. Chewing enables the digestive enzyme ptyalin, found in the saliva, to mix well with carbohydrates. Ptyalin breaks down the carbohydrates, beginning the dynamic process of transforming food in to energy. In addition, vegetables must be chewed well to break down the tough cellulose that surrounds the plant’s nutritive core. Carbs must be pre-digested in the mouth! It is imperative to chew whole grains well. Poorly chewed grains cannot break down properly and thus the nutrients, protein, and starches will not be separated from the fiber. If grains are swallowed without proper chewing, the stomach acids and pancreatic enzymes will be unable to break down the food into its basic components. In this case, the grains will only be partially absorbed by the intestines.  Indigestion and malabsorption may result!

Macrobiotic food, high in fiber as well as complex carbohydrates and recommended by top nutritional experts, must be eaten properly in order to derive the greatest nourishment. If you don’t want to chew, any diet, especially one high in complex carbohydrates, such as the macrobiotic diet, will fail to produce the desired effect and may create gas, heaviness, weight gain, discomfort and sluggishness and sometimes produces mental and emotional side effects such as irritability, moodiness, and anger. Dr. Arthur L. Kaslow, specializing in nutritional medicine, notes a distinct correlation between his patients’ chewing habits and their digestive functions. We live in a time of fast food, fast eating, and fast chewing. If we want health and well-being we must reorganize our priorities to regain our health and sanity with Conscious Eating.

“Chewing is most important in macrobiotics. You have no teeth in your stomach or in your intestines. So you must chew in your mouth, 50 times per mouthful, at least. The more you chew, the quicker you will master our philosophy of longevity and rejuvenation. In reality, good chewing of well-balanced food is the greatest ceremony of creating Life.”
George Ohsawa – Practical Guide to Far Eastern Macrobiotic Medicine

Are you going through your own harrowing experiences with the physical and mental anguish of disease and the challenge of healing? You may have tried many health and diet programs with varying results. After learning what to eat and how to eat properly, you can begin improving, even with a "terminal" illness.  Let's stop digging our graves with our forks. Let's learn how to eat and live in such a way as to heal ourselves. If we don't eat our food in the proper manner, even the healthiest macrobiotic foods can have us experience problems and other imbalances. Learning how to eat this food properly is quite simple, though it may take a good amount of awareness and discipline, both essential for healing.

I present in my book, Power Eating Program, or as I call it, "PEP,” a detailed system of how to eat for maximum energy, health, and healing. I have included how to create a peaceful eating environment, the optimum eating posture, the most beneficial sequence in which to eat different foods, how much to eat, and when to eat. I even teach what to do after we eat to aid digestion. All simple, yet vital health tools few of us learned in our youth. But it's never too late. I am now 75 years of age and I feel healthier and happier than I have been in my whole life.

Change is often quite challenging. To change a lifetime of eating habits takes courage.... and relearning. That is why we call it a macrobiotic practice. You did not learn how to drive a car in one lesson. Therefore it would take several trials to eat, chew and breathe property. In order to get the most from your macrobiotic way of life, study macrobiotic theories and philosophies well. Read the many wonderful macrobiotic books. Take classes to develop skills in cooking, menu planning, homemade remedies, exercise, and fitness. Seek support from your family and friends. Begin to eat macrobiotic foods in a relaxed, pleasant environment, to chew well, and cultivate a positive and grateful attitude.

Eating is a sacred act of creating your very life and is both a physical and spiritual act that profoundly influences us each day. Eating well is a powerful way to love and care for ourselves. Eat well and be well.

"Through what we consume, we change the quality of our body, mind, and spirit. Each of us is responsible for his or her own life and destiny. We are our own masters, and no one can chew for us." -- Michio Kushi, International Macrobiotic Visionary, Educator, and Author

"Chewing is one of the fundamental ways of expressing our freedom. Everyone can chew according to their own desire. The more you chew, the greater the possibility that you will develop your consciousness as well as improve your day-to-day life." -- Michio Kushi

"I believe that a balanced, natural diet, carefully prepared and properly eaten will help bring better health, mental clarity, and spiritual development which will lead to more fulfilling relationships and ultimately World Peace."-- Lino Stanchich

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