HEALTH IS NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT, IT IS ABOUT WHAT YOU DIGEST AND ABSORB.
Selecting balanced, nutritious foods is no guarantee for a healthy body and lifestyle with food. The following suggestions may be equally, possibly more important to your health as the foods you choose.
- CHEW YOUR FOOD. Why is this so important? Apha-amylase and lipase are digestive enzymes that work on fats and carbohydrates, when this first stage of digestion is compromised the consequences on digestion continue throughout the gut.
- ABSORB YOUR FOOD. Inadequate chewing lends to large food particles entering the stomach, digestion slows down and the production of bacteria increases. Poor digestion results in poor absorption of nutrients, all the nutritious foods in the world are worthless if we don’t absorb them!
- PACE YOURSELF. This strategy goes along nicely with chewing our food well. How long a meal takes may vary and depend on one’s environment; work, home or school. Try noticing with several meals through your week, how long it takes to eat.
Some tips for slowing down include; putting your fork down between bites, not pre-cutting food (cut as you eat), swallow completely before the next bite, engage in conversation when possible and practice mindfulness; asking yourself “how does this taste?”, “how do I feel”?
- AVOID EATING WHEN EMOTIONAL. Stress, anxiety and other strong emotions have a physiological effect on our bodies. Biochemicals; adrenaline, noradrenaline, neuropeptide S and cortisol are increased during times of stress and are directed away from digestion. Digestion in times of stress is not a priority.
- TAKE MEDICATIONS AS PRESCRIBED IN REGARD TO MEALS. Check with your pharmacist on when and how to take all medications, especially those designed to support digestion. Talk to your doctor if you are not experiencing relief from symptoms before increasing or even stopping the medication and take the medications daily or as prescribed to get the full benefit.
- PREPARE TO EAT. The sight and smell of food perceived by the nervous system , triggers the production of enzymes and hormones in preparation for digestion. When too little time is permitted between thinking or obtaining food and eating, indigestion may occur. Consider taking 1-5 minutes to appreciate each meal of the day, for the opportunity to self-care and/or possibly care for others.
- EAT TO 80% OF FULL. While the stomach does stretch, additional space for digestion is necessary to mix and mechanically breakdown food particles. A full stomach has less ability to complete this task. Similar to your laundry machine, don’t over fill!
- RELAX. This is the final suggestion for good reason. Relaxing, above all, during meals and digestion, is the single most key component to getting optimal benefit from our food. Music, setting the table, turning off the TV, adding a candle soft light, etc., getting out of the office, a breath of fresh air, a 5 minute meditation. Consider your own environment; when and how you can relax during some, a few or all of your meals.