When did we become so busy that we forgot to chew our food? The modern pace of life has us sitting in front of a computer eating our lunch, while we multi-task between our emails and our Facebook. We eat with one hand, while typing away at our keyboard, and scrolling on our phone screen with the other hand. And for those who have the chance to eat at a table with a healthy lunch, are snapping a pic and uploading onto social media while we half chew our food. Sound like you? Good, read on.
Although meals are easier than ever to access, we don’t allow ourselves the time to stimulate good digestion. In clinic, more and more I see clients present with digestive disorders, or even other conditions that all arise from poor absorption of nutrients. After all, our repair and growth factors all come from what you provide your body through the diet, and how the body can utilize it.
A simple yet forgotten term that can help increase digestion by around 40-60% is the cephalic phase digestion response. Cephalic means “head”, so this simply means digestion starts in the head. When you look, smell, taste and chew food, you are stimulating a response to the brain to start making digestive juices. This takes a little more time than we usually allow our body. If you scoff down your meal barely chewing, then wash it down with liquids, you largely reduce your digestive ability.
Our Nervous System
Another problem with eating when busy or rushed is your body doesn’t know it is yet mealtime as the incorrect nervous system is on. We have two main nervous systems that synchronize digestion. First is our Sympathetic Nervous System SNS or Flight or Fight. The SNS is activated when we are in danger, such as being threatened by a tiger (or a tiger in our mind), at a stressful meeting, late to something and rushing, or stuck in traffic. This Flight or Fight response secretes stress hormones and pumps blood to the vital organs. Blood is also taken away from the digestion, as there is no need to eat when running from a tiger.
The opposite of this is our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) or Rest and Digest. When our Rest and Digest is activated, we can do just that, our blood is at our digestive tract supporting the secretion of digestive juices, we can absorb nutrients and we can eliminate waste. Additionally, our natural self-repair mechanism only works when we activate our Parasympathetic Nervous System (Rest and Digest) allowing healing to occur.
How to Improve Digestion
Love, Pray, Eat
By using these words around meal time, it will help you to make a conscious effort to slow down, taste your food and make a massive difference to your digestive capacity. Even if all you remember is to chew your food and eat slower you will benefit. A conscious eating approach is developed from being sensitive to your own individual senses. This is an important thing to share with others, as many people know they eat too fast, but simply forget to slow down. So next meal time, try these three simple words, Love, Pray, Eat.
LOVE - love your food, make food choices that allow you to have pure bliss with your meal.
PRAY – give thanks for your food, where it came from and how it got to your plate.
EAT- enjoy chewing and tasting your food
Try These Tips Next Meal:
- Take a few deep belly breaths before you start to eat, as this helps to bring the blood back to your digestive tract
- Smell and look at your food, imagine your food in its natural state, in the ground, on a tree or in the ocean
- Take a picture of your food, but upload later
- Chew your food 20 times
- Taste your food, the flavors, the texture
- Avoid liquids while eating as this dilutes your digestive enzymes and weakens your absorption
- Rise from the table feeling as light as you sat down