Some people have major digestive dysfunctions that need to be addressed thoroughly. However, in many cases, simply applying powerful Eating Hygiene principles offers great relief for many people. Here are a few tips:
1. Slow down: I know it is hard at times! Digestion takes time and digestive secretions such as stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes need to time to be fully secreted.
a. Eating quickly can cause indigestion. Digestive secretions can’t mix well with the food.
b. It takes about 20min for your gut to signal your brain that you are full!
c. Get in the habit of taking breaks in between each bite of food.
d. Practice Mindful Eating, which is eating with intention, to eat something nourishing, and attention, to the detail of our food (i.e. flavor, color, taste). It means to be fully present, enjoying the moment. It is like active meditation!
2. Chew: chewing is the only part of our digestion that is voluntary. We take control of it! On average we only chew a bite of food about 6 times before we swallow!
a. The less we chew our food the harder our GI tract has to work. This creates post-meal fatigue
b. When we swallow chunks of food (vs. tiny, mostly liquefied bits), it’s harder for digestive enzymes in the intestines to do their job. This causes distention, flatulence and bloating.
c. Count your chews. Try to chew every bite about 20 times, except for soups and other delicate foods.
3. Prioritize Eating: we don’t consider eating a special event. And it is literally building our body! We run, run, run, eat in a rush, eat in our car, in between meetings; and all of this causes indigestion. Let’s treat every meal as a special event:
a. Sit down. Yes, at every meal, including snacks. When we eat in a way that doesn’t allow our nervous system to fully relax and move into parasympathetic mode, we literally put out less digestive fluids. Communicate to your body with your actions that it’s safe to relax and let down our guard and focus on digestion and restoring our reserves.
b. Breathe: the body needs oxygen to properly digest. Before you start eating take a few calming breaths.
c. Relax and savor: we tend to be “elsewhere” while we eat. Try to be fully present; enjoy the colors, flavors, textures. Distractions increase food intake. Leave the stressful conversations for later.
d. Plan our meals. This ensures the time is truly set aside to care for yourself via mindful eating.
4. Don’t drink too much during meals. The best time to hydrate is in between meals. Drinking too much during the meal can dilute stomach acid, slow digestion, create a sense of fullness, lead to malabsorption of nutrients, and cause belching.
It seems hard to implement these recommendations since we are always “on the go”!! But I really encourage you to prioritize these principles consistently! You can do it!
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