Did you know there was such a thing as eating hygiene? If you suffer from bloating or discomfort after eating, mild reflux, belching or gas - these can be symptoms of GI (Gastro Intestinal) dysfunction.
The good news is a lot of my clients find major relief by simply adopting a few principles of what we now call eating hygiene, but in fairness it’s just a reminder of how we are meant to eat.
Please don’t be fooled by how simple these ideas seem at first. If you really think about it, you don’t do majority of them - I certainly have to catch myself frequently, so read on for some powerful self help remedies/ reminders.
1. SLOW DOWN - Yes it’s easier said than done especially if your always running from one thing to the next. Digestions takes time and if we are stressed it takes even longer. If you gobbled down your meal in a hurry, a very full stomach has trouble mixing acid and enzymes with your food. This dynamic creates indigestion. It’s like trying to mix a stir-fry in a coffee cup – there’s simply not enough room and when it spills over you belch or burp or you may have reflux. It takes about 20 minutes for your gut to signal to your brain that you’re full and reduce your sense of hunger. If you gulped down your food in 10 minutes you’re most likely still going to feel hungry, end up over eating and then feel bloated 20 minutes later. To help this, I try put my knife and fork down in between each bite of food and take one full breath before the next bite.
2. CHEW - Chewing is the only part of the digestive process that is completely voluntary - you are in full control. The less you chew, the harder a GI tract has to work. This creates post meal fatigue. Ideally you want to chew your food until its almost liquid before swallowing. This can reduce gas and increase post meal energy. When we swallow chunks of food, it’s harder for digestive enzymes in the intestines to do their job. When carbohydrate foods hang around too long, the bacteria in the gut feed too much and create a gas buildup as a metabolic byproduct. The result is bloating and / or flatulence. You should be aiming for about 20 -30 chews, less obviously for soups and other delicate foods but aim for at least 20 - most of us swallow after 6!
3. PRIORITISE SITTING & EATING - Most of us are in the habit of multitasking while eating, eating on the go, while at our desk, on our laptops / zoom calls / watching tv etc. When we eat this way it doesn’t allow a nervous system to fully relax and move into a parasympathetic mode and thus we put out less digestive fluids. We are asking the body to focus and perform at the same time and it’s simply not built to do both at once. So do yourself and your digestion a favour and communicate that it’s safe to relax and focus on digestion and thereby restoring your reserves. Sit, avoid distraction, breathe, relax and savour what you are consuming. I understand it may not always be possible but if you can have 1-2 of your meals in a relaxed environment you will be astounded at the positive effects.
4. DON'T DRINK TOO MUCH DURING MEALS - Yes we need to be hydrated for overall wellness however, the best time to hydrate is in between meals. When you consume large amounts of water during a meal you dilute the acidity and slow digestion. This can cause an early sense of fullness, belching and long-term can cause nutrition malabsorption because your digestion is being compromised. Ideally get into the habit of carrying a water glass or a bottle around with you during the day and sip on it regularly.
Given our stress crazed, activity orientated society it be hard to implement these principles consistently.
You owe it to yourself to get the most out of the food that you are consuming.
You deserve the time to enjoy the taste, flavours, smells and fruits of your labour, if home cooked.
Mindful eating is also considered a type of meditation so it’s a double win giving your body the required relaxed state to digest for your own benefit while at the same time clearing your mind from nothing else but the task at hand and mouth ...
As always, if you have any question in relation to this please do not hesitate to contact me.