Are you digesting your food perfectly? Probably not.
Even if you don’t suffer from digestive complaints (and this is honestly more rare than not these days), you can always amp up your digestion. Optimal digestion is SO important because it’s the process that gives us the energy and vitality to be rockstar humans.
If I asked you to point to where digestion starts, would you point to your stomach?
Would make sense, but in fact, digestion starts in our MOUTHES with the process of thorough chewing and the releasing of *enzymes in our saliva (*enzymes are complex proteins that begin the process of breaking down your food).
Unfortunately, most of us are eating in ways that really work against optimal digestion, and we’re suffering because of it. If you eat while rushed, stressed, upset, driving, walking, looking at your phone, computer or TV or simply as a quick means to not keel over and die, you’re wreaking havoc on your digestive system and probably not getting as many nutrients from the food you’re eating.
Enter: Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is simply eating with intention and attention; eating with the intention of caring for yourself and eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body .
In our food-abundant culture, eating is often mindless, rushed and joyless. Mindful eating is an ancient mindfulness practice with profound modern implications and applications for better nourishing our bodies.
5 Mindful Eating Practices to Help You Digest and Enjoy Your Food
- Start small.
Choose one meal or snack each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time. Stop multitasking at meal times. It’s really difficult to focus on eating (and consequently digestion and nutrient assimilation) if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment.
- Only eat at a table.
Another way to minimize mindless munching is to get into the habit of only eating when you are sitting down and able to give the food your full attention. No more snacking on the run.
- Appreciate the appearance.
While we’ve all drooled over gorgeous food in magazines or online, sometimes we forget about the beauty of the food we are about to eat. Taking the time to notice sets the scene for mindful eating. Focus on each mouthful. Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth. Focus on how much you like or dislike these sensations.
This one is HUGE and made a big difference for me. While it can be overkill to go to the extreme of (recommended) 50 bites per mouthful, make sure you chew your food enough so that it is well broken down before you swallow. Set a number between 30 and 50 and try to get there with every bite. This exercise will at least be an eye-opener to show you how insufficiently you probably actually chew before swallowing already, and that you need to work on it.
Remember, digestion starts in your mouth and your stomach doesn’t have teeth!
Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls. It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork.
- Talk and share.
One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones. It can be challenging to incorporate mindfulness in a social situation but not impossible. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating. Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavours and textures, likes and dislikes. At first this may seem a little weird but trust me, you’ll soon find yourself having fun with it.
If you find yourself eating alone a lot for whatever reason, that’s cool too. Put on some nice music while you enjoy your meal instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching Netflix, so you’re still present and focused on your food.
- Digestion is very important and deserves far more attention than we give it.
- You can improve your digestion with simple daily practices.
- Try to sit down for meals.
- Avoid eating in a distracted state.
- Make an effort to CHEW way more than you are. Way more. You’ll thank me.
Love your food and your body!
She is here to preach what she practices and help you to prepare amazing whole food meals from scratch, grow your own organic food and optimize your lifestyle and environment to promote the most vibrant, glowing and energetic you.
Laura is currently based in Dundas, Ontario, Canada but works remotely with people from all over the world!
Latest posts by Laura Franklin, CNP, CFMHC (see all)
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