ToeSox Ambassador, Nutritional Therapist, Barre Instructor and Restorative Wellness Practitioner - Alyssa Hustedt. She’s here to chat mindful eating, how it impacts digestion, and share some pro tips for mindful eating to incorporate into your everyday habits.
Digestion: The Foundation of Health
Digestion is foundational to every aspect of your health. If you’re not properly digesting and assimilating your nutrients, it’s going to affect every part of your wellbeing. Sixty percent of your immune system is comprised in your digestion system, and ninety percent of your serotonin is made in your gut. So your gut directly affects your brain health as well.
Not All Food Is Created Equally
Number one, eat nutrient-dense, whole foods that are not packaged. Remember: everything that you put into your body will either fuel or deplete it; everything you put in your body is going to either give you energy or take energy from you as the body tries to digest. But beyond what we’re putting in our bodies, we need to make sure that we’re properly digesting – and that’s where mindful eating comes into play.
Rest and Digest
Digestion starts when we think about our food, it’s a natural reaction of the sympathetic nervous system – but when you sit down to a meal it’s important to think of switching your nervous system over to the parasympathetic side. It’s the difference between fight and flight, or “sit and stew,” to “rest and digest.” So, your meal is on the table and you’re ready to practice mindful eating. How do you try to switch from a state of stress to a state of rest?
When you first sit down to have a meal don’t jump right in. Take a few deep belly breaths, say a prayer, have some good conversation, make sure to eat slowly and chew your food really well. Practice presence and staying in the moment.
Consequences of Eating Under Stress
What happens when we don’t eat mindfully? What happens if we eat in a state of stress, or if we’re just looking at our phones or thinking about something else? Our digestive systems turn off and our bodies will store that food as fat because our bodies think that we might need it for an upcoming stressful situation. Nutrients aren’t properly assimilated and it can cause digestive distress as well as a host of other digestive issues in the body that we don’t want.
Tips for Mindful Eating
Number one: Make mealtime sacred. I know it’s hard and it seems like there’s no time, but that’s not true! You can make time for your meals, you can make time to sit and reflect, and it’s such good practice to learn to turn off that stressful state and become more mindful not only about your eating, but about everything else in life.
Number two: Allow your brain to switch from sympathetic-dominant to parasympathetic-dominance by taking 10 really deep belly breaths, turning off your phone, chewing your food really well, really trying to taste each bite and paying attention to what your body’s telling you. Are you full? Are you still hungry? Is the food you’re eating something you even want?
Number three: Most important – when you’re feeling full, stop eating! Continuing to eat past the feeling of fullness can be a sign that you’re emotional eating.
Written by Alyssa Hustedt