By Katie Carter
Let's take a look at HOW you eat each day.
• Do you eat while reading, driving, or working at your computer?
• Do you sit down, put your food on a plate and eat with a fork?
• Do you take a moment of gratitude?
• Do you wash your meal down with too much water or alcohol?
• Do you eat slowly and chew your food well?
• Does your meal reflect a rainbow of colors?
Did you miss the memo about this important nutritional fact?
OPTIMAL health begins in the digestive tract.
Do you know that digestive aids are the top selling over-the-counter supplements at pharmacies?
You could be eating the highest quality food, but if you sleep walk through meals, your digestive system could be compromised and not fully able to digest, absorb and excrete your food efficiently. Many health issues are related to challenges of the gut. Fatigue, mood issues, brain fog, low immunity, joint pain, autoimmune diseases, cravings, etc. don't necessarily manifest themselves in your digestive system. The food we eat is only 50% of what truly nourishes us.
How you eat and your state of mind are just as important as the foods you choose.
Enter Mind/Body Nutrition
Try these Mindful Eating tools to improve digestion and avoid a Food Coma.
1. Before eating - Invoke the relaxation response. Shift out of the sympathetic side of your nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic side (rest and digest). Carve time from a stressful day to sit down, find a moment of gratitude and relax while eating. When in a real or imagined stressful state, we have 4x less blood flow to our digestive organs, which leads to poor absorption of vitamins and minerals.
2. Vitamin T – Take TIME to eat! Fast eating creates a physiological stressor on digestive organs. When possible, take TIME to prepare, smell and taste food. Be creative! Put your fork down and take a small sip of wine or water. Digestion likes slow, spacious, sensuous, unhurried meals and don't forget to chew, chew, chew your food! Be the last one at the table with food on your plate. Win the TIME game.
3. Vitamin O – Breathe! Just like wood loves Oxygen to burn more efficiently, our digestive furnace loves oxygen to create faster metabolism. Simply put, oxygen promotes better digestion. Take 3 - 5 deep belly breaths before a meal. Try pausing by putting your fork down, relaxing, and taking a few more breaths. Stoke the metabolic fire that burns food as fuel.
4. Vitamin P – Be Present, at Peace and feel Pleasure at meals. Begin practicing this with just 1 meal a day and truly experience what you're eating. Be aware of taste, aroma, and visual content – does it contain a rainbow of colors? How does your gut feel, are you satiated?
"Energy flows where awareness goes"
Deliberately focus on eating – no TV, computers, or beeping I-phones. Be at Peace with yourself if you choose to indulge in occasional fun foods, savor the experience. Pleasure compliments the relaxation response.
Mindful eating is a practice and takes time and effort to learn. Be kind, start slowly and just chose one tool to focus on. You'll soon discover a greater joy in eating, reduced stress and better digestion while nourishing your body.
Katie Carter is certified in Holistic Nutrition Consulting and yoga teacher training. She specializes in helping women balance their hormones, build strong bones, maintain healthy weight, understand hot flashes and improve sleep, digestion and libido through mind/body nutrition. Her office and classroom are located at 133 Argall Way, Nevada City, CA. 530-265-9343. For more information visit: www.katiecarterwellness.com