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You are HOW you eat TOO!

Updated: May 7

I started to notice this old habit of rushing through lunches to make sure that I was eating creeping back in. I shovel the entire containers amount of carefully prepared and thoughtfully curated nourishment into my face faster than a human should while stressed about getting to my next client, and anxiously checking messages on my phone...... Two hours later I would be bloated, have very uncomfortable digestion, and a massive DIP in my energy, EVEN though I had eaten a VERY good meal, filled with foods that normally make me feel like million bucks. Why this change, I have always "eaten lunch on the RUN"

Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone else?

In our hustle and bustle of modern life, we often overlook the importance of HOW we eat. Our busy schedules and constant multitasking lead to rushed meals, eating on the way to work, or mindlessly shoving food in our faces while checking our phones..

I have long been a believer in mindful eating, but didn't fully understand HOW we eat can affect out digestion until I hit Perimenopause and burnt out adrenal fatigue. The way we approach our meals can significantly impact not only our digestion but also our overall stress levels and physical wellness.

The last couple weeks I have really been diving into the intricate connection between mindful eating, digestion, and stress. As someone who takes a holistic approach to nutrition I wanted to shed light on why it's essential to cultivate a mindful approach to eating and how simple changes in our eating habits can yield profound benefits for our health. This is the research that I have learned and implemented for MY journey to caring for my body, I urge you to take for these points what you feel connected to and leave the rest.

1. NERD with me on the Digestive Process:

Before we dive into the impact of eating habits on digestion and stress, let's understand the digestive process itself. Digestion begins the moment food enters our mouth. Chewing breaks down food into smaller particles, mixing it with saliva, which contains enzymes that kick-start the digestion of carbohydrates.

As food travels down the esophagus and into the stomach, it encounters gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid and enzymes, further breaking it down into a semi-liquid mass called chyme. From the stomach, chyme moves into the small intestine, where the majority of nutrient absorption takes place. Finally, undigested waste products pass into the large intestine for elimination. All of these steps are VITAL for your food to break down and be properly absorbed. Without proper absorption you can eat all the healthy foods you want and still be malnourished.

2. The Role of Stress:

Stress, whether physical or psychological, triggers the body's "fight or flight" response, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. While this response is crucial for survival in threatening situations, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our digestive system.

When stressed, blood flow is diverted away from the digestive organs to the muscles, heart, and brain, preparing the body for action. As a result, digestion slows down, and the absorption of nutrients is compromised. Moreover, stress can exacerbate gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and gastritis. This is why when I stressfully shove food into my face my body has been reacting with bloat, poor digestion and upset stomach.

3. Mindful Eating vs. Mindless Eating:

Now, let's contrast two scenarios: mindful eating versus mindless eating. Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the eating experience, from the selection and preparation of food to the act of eating itself. It encompasses engaging all the senses, savoring flavors, and being present in the moment. This allows us to have an experience with the food, to be calm and enjoy the meal. The body is able to move into rest and digest and process the nutrition properly.

On the other hand, mindless eating often occurs when we're distracted or rushed - like shoving food in my face between clients, eating while working, scrolling through our phones, or watching television diminishes our awareness of the food we're consuming and disrupts the body's natural digestive processes. This can lead to overeating because we aren't hearing the bodies "i am full" triggers, or eating foods that don't really nourish us just so we can get something to stop the hunger pains.

4. The Impact on Digestion and Stress Levels:

When we eat mindfully, taking the time to chew our food thoroughly, we aid the digestive process right from the start. Proper chewing breaks down food into smaller particles, easing the workload on the stomach and facilitating nutrient absorption in the intestines. Additionally, mindful eating promotes relaxation, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which supports optimal digestion. When we eat a meal in this way we are saying to the body "you are safe to stop and nourish yourself".

Conversely, rushing through meals or eating under stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system, hindering digestion and increasing the likelihood of gastrointestinal discomfort. As I mentioned before, when we're distracted while eating, we're more prone to overeating, as we fail to register satiety signals from the body, which can lead to weight gain and digestive issues over time.

OK, GREAT! So you know that you are rushing your meals, you know that you are experiencing adrenal fatigue and bloating, and you know that you are not approaching eating as a way to nourish and love your body, but with a mindset of "diet" or "requirements". Now what?

I suggest starting with these 5 simple and SUPER practical tips to help you (and me) switch from rushed / stressed eating that causes bloat and fatigue to nourishing meal that LOVE on your body.

  1. Set aside dedicated time for meals, free from distractions. Start by blocking off time that will be for your meals. Listen to your body, I find that big meals during the day are hard for me, so I take small snack like meals.

  2. Practice gratitude before eating, acknowledging the effort that went into preparing the meal.

  3. Chew each bite thoroughly, aiming for 20-30 chews per mouthful.

  4. Engage your senses by noticing the colors, textures, and aromas of your food.

  5. Pause between bites, allowing time to appreciate the flavors and sensations.

  6. Listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues, stopping when you're satisfied.

How we eat matters just as much as what we eat. By adopting a mindful approach to eating, we can enhance our digestion, reduce stress levels, and improve our overall well-being. Let's savor each bite, nourishing not only our bodies but also our minds and souls with the simple act of eating.

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