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5 Tips for Mindful Eating

Introduction

Hey, what’s going on there, it’s Dr. Jason with Elite Health. Hope you’re doing well. Today, I want to stress the importance of mindful eating. Even if you’re not feeling good, dealing with health issues, low energy, brain fog, irritability, or problems with your gut, changing just one thing can make a significant difference. That one thing is mindful eating.

The Domino Effect of Digestion

Think of eating as a bunch of dominoes. When the first one falls, the rest tend to follow. That’s exactly how digestion works. It’s crucial to get those first few dominoes heading in the right direction.

The Importance of Calmness

The first step is to achieve calmness. Your vagus nerve needs to send signals to your digestive organs that you’re not in a stressful situation. You’re not running from a lion or tiger, your bosses yelling at you,  you don’t have this bill to pay. I know that’s reality, I get it, but you’ve got to somehow disconnect from that stress momentarily. So think about maybe doing a simple prayer before eating. Get your shoulders down out of your ears, a couple of deep breaths. If nothing else, just sit there and just be for a minute- just take a minute and just be still. You’ve got to get yourself out of sympathetic mode. Most of us that have chronic illness probably are in that state pf stress a lot. Right? We’re worried about this symptom, that symptom. Man, I need something I don’t know if I’m going to feel so good,  lots of anxiety. A lot of worry goes with that. So we’ve got to calm that down. It’s not going to help us at all with healing. So get comfortable in your mind, get calm. Disconnect from stress momentarily before eating. A simple prayer, a couple of deep breaths, or just being present can help.

Avoid Distractions

Being present at the meal is essential. If you’re on your phone, checking email, and scarfing bites of food, that’s not going to work. Taking a break to eat and letting your mind chill can actually make you more productive. You might think you’re being productive, but you’re not actually. You will be less productive even though you worked through lunch. You’re thinking you’re more productive  if you don’t take a break. It’s the opposite. If your brain isn’t allowed to just chill for a little bit, your tasks, actually completion rates, goes down. So you’re actually costing yourself time, not adding time. This is a total myth that working through lunch helps you- it does not at all.

Chew Your Food Adequately

Chewing your food adequately is another crucial aspect of mindful eating. The number that’s been thrown around is around 30 times, especially for things like meat and vegetables. Make sure your food is liquid before you swallow.

Don’t Guzzle Drinks with Meals

Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with your meals.I know you’re busy. I know you probably forgot to drink water all morning and you’re parched. Well, you should drink a bunch of water. Wait a little while then eat lunch. Okay, so don’t drink with meals. And I know a lot of us are just so used to that we’re guzzling it maybe when we were kids, we grew up with tall glasses of milk with every meal. Not a good idea, especially with dairy. It’s  going to neutralize stomach acid. So four ounces maximum with a meal. You need a little sip here and there. That is half a cup. Get the smallest cup you have in your house. You have to let your digestive juices work. otherwise you have a lot of health problems or continue to have health problems.

Eating in Order

Eating in order can also benefit our body in terms of blood sugar and insulin. Eat all your vegetable servings first, then your proteins, fats, starches, and finally, your sugars.

Research has shown to benefit our body the most in terms of blood sugar, insulin, eat  all your vegetable servings first. So if you’re having a salad or like some steamed broccoli, eat that first.  First, you are putting tons of nutrients in your body but you’re also getting fiber. The next in order would be your proteins. If you have a  grilled chicken breast or some steamed salmon or something eat protein next. Number three, then we go with our fats. Oftentimes fats are built into the meal but if you have a separate fat like an avocado, or handful of nuts or something, go ahead and get that in third, it’s really important. And then fourth would be your starches like your rice or potatoes. If you’re having pasta, please make it gluten free.  Then the last would be your sugars. That’d be your fruits or if you want some dessert, I eat 80% cacao chocolate after every meal. That’d be great too. That is a great way to be mindful about eating and also will help balance out that blood sugar.

Conclusion

Okay, last thing is just to be mindful at the end of the meal. Your nervous system will tell you what’s going on. We’re not getting into food sensitivities right now. That’s a whole other ballgame. But let’s say you feel pretty energetic after a meal. Take a five to 10 minute walk. Okay, do some jumping jacks do a little quick yoga session do something because your body’s feeling edgy. You can kind of dissipate the energy a little bit and then go into the second half of your day feeling pretty good. Or if you’re feeling a little sluggish give into that – it is actually important to listen to this intuitively. If you feel a little sluggish take a little power nap. It’s okay. I would say not more than half an hour but take a short little power nap even just close your eyes and just sit there. This can be really great for revitalizing, refreshing, before getting back to work.

Mindful eating can significantly improve your health and wellbeing. By being present, chewing your food adequately, and eating in the right order, you can enhance your digestion and overall health. So, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Be Well,

Dr. Jason

Naturopathic Doctor in Lansing, MI

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