When I began to learn about the strong connection between how we approach mealtime and a healthy, well functioning digestive system, I was so amazed and intrigued.
We all know how important digesting our food is for good health. It’s how the nutrients from our food ultimately become part of our cells, allowing our bodies to function well.
We also know those things we should be mindful of when we’re eating - take small bites, chew our food well, put down our fork in between bites, don't drink too much while we're eating, etc.
These small tips give our body the chance to digest all the yummy goodness we're taking in. It also means we’ll get the most benefit in assimilating vitamins and minerals when our digestion is in tip top shape. Creating healthier, stronger systems and healthier, happier selves.
One of the simplest and easiest ways we can give our digestive system a hand starts before we even open our mouth.
You see the difference when you sit down to eat. You’re not distracted by the stresses of the day. There's delicious looking food on the table that has your attention. You start to smell all the goodness - garlic, savoury and sweet spices, aromas coming straight from the oven. Maybe even some fresh baked bread. (There really is no greater smell in the world, am I right?) Everything looks and smells to die for delicious. Your mouth starts watering and you cannot wait to dig in.
Then, there are those times when you are rushed and starving.
You tell yourself to find something quick because you have a million things to do before the day is out. Stopping to eat feels like a task that's just gotten in the way. You end up eating while rushed in traffic or at your desk while working on your most pressing deadline. Quickly, you finish your meal. (Phewpf, that's outta the way). Now you can really focus on that deadline or making it to that meeting on time. You ate so quickly and were so distracted that you honestly can't remember how your meal tasted.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you?
What I just described is the first and the most important phase of digestion. It's called the cephalic phase and is responsible for about 30% of our digestive juice (stomach acid) production. It happens when the brain sends a signal to the stomach to start producing digestive juices for your meal.
The very sight, thought or smell of food triggers this signal. It activates our parasympathetic nervous system, putting our body into 'rest n digest' mode.
This mode is crucial for helping you fully digest your meal.
It only happens when you like or want your meal. This means we need to be mindful during mealtime. Not distracted with the to-do list of the day, and not eating while stressed out.
I came across this video by Dr. Joseph Mercola. It explains so well the importance of mindful eating. It shows what happens when we eat while distracted and under stress. It's only 5 minutes long, so nerd out with me and watch it.
I make pretty much all of my clients watch this video. As I say - it doesn't matter how organic or wholesome your meal is. If you're not restin' n digestin', your body is missing out on so many essential nutrients.
If you take one thing away from today's post, it's the need to take time to rest before you start to digest. (Tweet that)
To restin' n digestin',