08/20/2013 01:09 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2013

Gulp, Grapple or Grace

You are hungry. Tell me, how easy for you is it when you get sweet or nourishing morsels into your mouth to chomp on them a few times and then gulp them down, perhaps with a swig of water or other beverage. It's yummy in that oral cavity and the noisy commotion in the pit of the stomach is intense. How often do you question how much should I chew? Or do you just gulp and gain immediate satisfaction?

In school they tell us to chew really well. As we get older, we are told chewing is important for digestion. I've never seen a commercial on television that says, "This is food you don't need to chew." We have teeth in order to tear apart our food adequately, but few of us do it. Something wild within, a natural reflex, wants to swallow, wants to get that sustenance into us as soon as possible in order to calm the inner fire or quiet the voracious animal within.

Our physical hunger for food is much as it is for other basic needs. We want when we want what we want. We don't always know why or care why or wonder the wisest way to go about granting these natural urges that accumulate and erupt. It is natural to have a need and fulfill it. But it is not always the healthiest way to go about living, in this manner that decides first and thinks later.

I've been told it is supremely important to chew our food until that which was food is in fluid form before we swallow. Since we are at least 50-percent liquid ourselves, our bodies digest more easily when we have chewed thoroughly. I find it difficult to do this. The hungrier I am, the harder it is. Undigested food causes our body to go into overdrive in order to digest unmasticated globs of goodies, taking energy away from other functions necessary for streamlined health. This overload becomes unhealthy and yet, the need to gulp or swallow feels as relevant, as necessary in almost any moment, regardless of the warnings.

Having successfully grappled with this conundrum once, doesn't guarantee the grace to forever deal with the predicament healthfully. This is because of that wild natural part of us that is hungry, that is famished, that feels entitled and that wants what it wants when it wants it. In my struggling with this concept, when I am capable of chewing food into fluid, when I finally swallow gracefully I don't feel as if I'd accomplished anything. I don't feel that I succeeded, I feel as if I was able to keep the wild dog napping at my calves from biting me.

Grace seems the right word to use to describe doing things the right way, eating the way the body needs for greatest health. Grace is a word used in so many ways. Many say grace before eating, but how many think about eating with grace? It's explicitly human in our fast-food world to go get it, then gulp it. Yet, that doesn't sustain us as satisfactorily as we think it does.

Before I got sick, I knew about green smoothies and juice but I'd be damned if I had to have one. Now that I know how much healthy nutrition these green glasses provides the body, I consume them without question. When I don't have them, my body suffers, my mental concentration lessens, I feel more sluggish and nothing else fits the bill. The healthier I get the quicker my body tells me when something I've eaten or drank no longer works for me. I never knew this when I gave my mouth free rein to eat what and how it wanted without question.

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