Mindfulness practices are all the buzz these days in an effort to combat our fast paced lives. Have you thought about bringing mindfulness to your meal times?
We all think about what we eat and make an effort to choose healthier... but do you ever think about how you eat? Do you grab quickly breakfast on the way to work and eat it in the car? Do eat while checking emails or otherwise multi-tasking? Do you sit down? If you are not being intentional about how as well as what you eat, it may be impacting your digestive system's function. Mindful eating is simply eating with intention and paying attention to your food and it's flavors while you do so. Research has shown that mindful eating improves digestion, eating habits, and overall health. It can also have a positive impact on the emotional and psychological aspects of eating.
Thinking about food before eating it actually prepares your mind and body for the first stage of digestion because the brain starts to anticipate the smell and taste of the food, stimulating production of saliva, hydrochloric acid, and digestive enzymes. On the other hand, if you eat mindlessly and don’t pay attention to your food, then your brain doesn’t sends signals to prepare your GI tract properly. You have actually cheated your brain, and it may lead to poor digestion and even weight gain.
Working can increase the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is know to supress all the digestive juices as it's responsible for triggering your fight or flight reflexes (not your rest and digest ones). This results in undigested food, lost nutrients, acid reflux, gas, and bloating.
The hard truth is that mindless eating often leads to over-eating, which means more calories and often weight gain. Inhaling food quickly prevents you from noticing your body’s signals that it is full, which can take up to 20 minutes. If you've eaten two plates of your supper in 10 minutes, you can see how that "too full" feeling can sneak up fast. This can result in poor digestion or even complications with your digestive system, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Our ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is also affected by stress, hormones, gut microbial imbalance, toxins, and food sensitivities.
Practicing mindful eating is not as intimidating as it sounds, and the more you practice, the more effortless and less of a process it becomes. It's really just about slowing down, eating intentionally, and enjoying the flavors and textures of your food. It does not have to be long and drawn out discipline, but mindful eating should be just that—mindful, intentional, and enjoyable! Here are a few simple ways to start eating more mindfully:
Food should be fuel for your body and should be something you enjoy. Reflect on your eating habits. If your habits do not reflect this 80% of the time, your eating might require a little more mindfulness.
As always, I hope this article has served and helped you.
If it has, and you want to learn more about my simple approach to choosing healthier foods, sign up for my FREE 8-Page Downloadable Crash Course On Clean Eating.
Laura Nurse, BBA, ND
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