5 Way To Improve Your Body's Response To Food
Do you ever feel like you've got the right nutrition plan for you, but you still aren't feeling100%? Or maybe, you're super confused about what's right for you and are feeling a bit AFRAID of every food out there?
I want each of you to put your positivity hats on while you read this. What I'm about to share with you means you have MORE control over how your bodies respond to food than maybe you thought previously.
I think most of us already know that the SIGHT of food triggers our brains to start talking to our bodies. If we are staring at our absolute favorite food- whatever that is for you- we start to salivate a little. We might feel our tummies rumble in anticipation of getting that food *in*our*bellies!* (I'm really hoping you're reading that in the voice of the Fat Bastard from Austin Powers!)
So, how does our FEELINGS and our SURROUNDINGS change that response??
Well, if we're SCARED of what that food might do to us.. Your internal monologue might be something like, "Ugh. Gluten supposedly causes inflammation. Is that my problem? Or is it the dairy? Or maybe nightshades.. I'm hearing about that a lot lately. If I eat XXX, what's going to happen?"
Or maybe you connect to one of these scenarios more:
We're RUSHING to eat lunch/dinner because of schedules… sometimes scarfing food in the car or at our desk while doing 3 other things. Maybe feeling GUILTY because it's not the healthy meal you'd prefer to be eating and/or feeding your kids.
We're trying to eat dinner as a family, but it's CHAOS. The baby is screaming, the preschooler is making noise just to make noise, and another child is complaining that they don't like the way you cut her toast. Overstimulation, much?
Maybe you finally got a date night with your partner, and you end up getting into a spat while you're waiting for your food to arrive. You end up eating your dinner in TENSE silence (silently outlining everything you're going to say once you're not in a public place).
You get the idea.. Most of us rarely eat meal in a peaceful, relaxed, quiet way.
So, you're thinking, "ok, Erin, this isn't anything new. What are you getting at?"
I hear you- and here it is. Our brains register these emotions, and triggers our bodies to decrease saliva, the flow of digestive juices and hormones, enzymes. Cortisol levels elevate. Inflammation increases.
Ba-da-bing! Now, we're not breaking down or absorbing nutrients optimally. We can end up with bloating, stomach pains, gas, etc. The inflammation may be contributing to leaky gut, causing further food sensitivities. Cortisol is negatively affecting weight gain (especially around your waist!), reproductive hormone production and a million other things.
I know this could sound defeating, but, remember, we've got our positivity hats on! This means we can CONTROL a little piece of how our body responds.
It may not be easy. We can't really duct tape our kids mouths shut or tell our bosses to leave us alone to eat.
BUT we CAN make little changes to help calm our bodies while we eat, setting the stage for our bodies to more fully receive this nutrition and in turn, move TOWARDS homeostasis (ie, feeling BETTER) vs further AWAY.
Here are 5 easy and practical ways to better set the stage for a more positive eating experience.
1) Turn off the TV! I know that's not rocket science, but you'd be surprised how many people don't think about this one. iPads, kindles, and other electronics count, too. If you're not a TV home, turn off the radio. Maybe dim the lights. The goal is to limit as much external excitatory stimuli as you can. Your kids still might be bickering (try number 4 below!), but at least there's no additional noise you're dealing with.
2) If you're eating on the run, take a moment of silence before you start to eat. Offer up a bit of gratitude for your food and get two birds with one stone! That could take less than 10 seconds.
3) Use your apps. Listen to a guided meditation while you eat. Maybe it's one about mindful eating or one that just makes you feel good. Insight Timer, Simple Habit, or Headspace are a few to check out.
4) Count how many times you chew each bite. You can even get your kids involved with this one if they're old enough. Make a game of who can chew the most in one bite. (Pro tip: they can't count out loud!) Not only will your gut get a little break by not having to work as hard to digest your meal, you'll be a lot more mindful of what you're eating. You'll likely eat just the right amount of food AND reduce the negative hormonal and systemic effects on your body.
5) Put your food/utensil down and BREATHE. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself rushing to eat for no reason at all, only to find myself repeatedly sighing after my food is all gone. I've trained myself to eat quickly over the years from squeezing in lunch at work or trying to eat while the baby is happy. It didn't matter if I had all the time in the world to eat, I was slamming my food like I was in a hot dog eating contest. To re-train myself, I've started to put my food/fork down after I take a bite, and after I've swallowed, I take a deep breath. Then I decide if I want another bite or not.
Little changes can mean so much… one of my favorite sayings that almost every one of my patients has heard over the years is "pennies add up!" And it's true! It's HARD to make huge changes when you're juggling a million balls and are scared to death of dropping any of them.
It's time to give yourself some grace, and try just one of these tips.
Do you ladies have some practical tips to make your meals a little more relaxed and mindful? Comment below and share your wisdom!