Mindful Eating: It’s Not Just WHAT We Eat That Matters…

HOW We Eat Can Make Big Difference in How We Feel

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?  Check off all that apply:

  • Eating in the car
  • Eating at your desk at work (guilty)
  • Eating while multi-tasking (um, yes)
  • Eating while commuting (I see this a lot in NYC – eating while walking or eating on subways)
  • Eating in front of the TV
  • Eating while stressed
  • Eating off your kid’s plate
  • Eating off another adult’s plate  
  • Eating quickly
  • Eating while cooking (I mean, how else can you check for seasoning?)

Hey, I do a few of these too.  And I remind myself and my clients to do the following in order to eat more mindfully for better digestion.

Slow Down

Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety and fullness after eating?  When you are distracted and not eating mindfully, you can increase the likelihood of overeating, which can not only lead to weight gain but can also lead to digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, indigestion and acid reflux. 

Eat Smaller Meals

If you have IBS, you may experience what’s called visceral hypersensitivity.  When we eat, our stomach naturally distends as it fills with food and liquid.  For most people, this doesn’t cause pain but for some of us with IBS, this can register in the brain as abdominal pain and cramping.  One way to mitigate this effect is to eat smaller meals more frequently and to not overeat. 

Chew and Chew Some More

Also, if we don’t chew our food thoroughly, our stomach acid and digestive enzymes have way more work to do.  These digestive juices break down our foods into smaller molecules so they can be digested and absorbed more easily.  For those of us with IBS, SIBO or other digestive conditions, we may be lacking in stomach acid and digestive enzymes.  So thoroughly chewing your food will help improve digestion.

Eat in Peace

It’s also important to eat in a relaxed state known as the “rest and digest” mode.  The scientific term for this is the parasympathetic state.  When we are stressed, otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight” mode, the body cannot digest food.  Rather, the body is preparing to flee from the proverbial lion (btw, the body doesn’t know the difference between the lion attack or that looming 5pm deadline).  It shuts down non-essential functions (digestion, reproduction, fighting infections, etc.) so it can focus all energy on staying alive in this moment.  The scientific term for this is the sympathetic state.  When the “the “fight or flight” mode if ON then the “rest and digest” mode is OFF.  They both can’t be on at the same time.   For better digestion, we want to be in the “rest and digest” mode more often.

3 Techniques for Mindful Eating

So what can you do to slow down, eat more mindfully and ensure you are feeling more relaxed?  Check out this video where I demonstrate 3 techniques you can incorporate at every meal.  Bonus points doing more than one!  Give them a try and let me know how you feel.

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