We hear so much about the right foods to eat, but could the way you eat be saboutaging your health?
Consider how we are living in a very busy world, it’s all go go go, everything is done on the run, grabbing a quick bite at your desk, in front of the TV or standing at the kitchen counter.
90% of my clients say they eat too quickly & don’t chew their food enough, it’s a real problem for people and can be a hard habit to break, but it’s worth noting that this simple everyday process can have detrimental effects on our health over time.
You could argue that the way we eat is as important as what we eat. That old saying ‘you are what you eat’ very true but can be taken to another level if you think actually ‘you are what you digest’. How is your digestion? Are you wolfing down your food short on time or too hungry? Are you snacking late at night? Or skipping meals? All of these habits play havoc with our health. Just being aware of them is half the battle, once you know the potential damage they are doing there will be more motivation to break those habits.
So let’s look at some of the issues with the way we eat;
Do you chew your food enough?
Many of us are eating far too quickly and chewing our food insufficiently. Would you be surprised to know that we should chew each bite 20-30 times, until it is just a liquid? Chewing our food is a major part of our digestion and one part that we have control over. In this chewing, enzymes are released which, very simply put, are the beginning of our digestion & these are going to tell the stomach there is food on the way, so the stomach has time to prepare, release stomach acid, enzymes, hormones. The problem is if food is being swallowed down too quickly without chewing, the stomach won’t be ready to digest it and over time this can have catastrophic effects on our digestion, damaging our gut bacteria balance & the health of our gut lining. Awareness of it is half the battle, so slowing down, applying a bit of mindfulness to your chewing, and avoiding drinking lots of liquids while eating, can be good places to start.
Are you a distracted eater? Or do you eat in a stressed state?
If you’re eating for at your desk, in the car or running around the kitchen this is all going to contribute. Are you eating in more of a ‘fight or flight’ state than ‘rest and digest’ where we want to be, as it is in this state that our digestion works efficiently. There’s a major component of our nervous system involved with our digestion, so simple practices at mealtimes like switching off your computer or TV, sitting down, actually focusing on the meal in front of you and even practising a little gratitude for the food or taking 3 deep breaths, or when you enjoy a meal in the company of others, all of this can really work to switch your nervous system into a more relaxed state allowing the energy & blood flow back to your gut and making for much better digestion. Also at play here is hunger hormones so when you slow down it makes it easier to see when you’re really hungry & when you’re actually full & you can often end up eating less.
Do you skip meals? ‘Too busy to eat’
The body is always working to keep itself in balance, in a safe healthy place. A good routine around eating and having meals at regular times is a great way to aid this homeostasis, as it promotes blood sugar balance & reduces stress in the body. In this way the body will learn when to expect food, as opposed to going into ‘fat storage mode’ as a result of skipped meals. So aiming for maybe three meals a day, that can vary by individual, but using each meal as an opportunity to really nourish the body, you have the choice here literally to either heal or harm the body.
Stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting? Tried every fad in the book?
It can be great to get some advice to help you break these patterns. Eating a natural whole foods diet allows you to eat plenty of delicious satisfying foods. Good old fashioned natural foods that are really going to fuel every process & function in the body. Eating in this way allows you to reach/maintain a healthy weight without dieting or restricting. I always try to promote eating for health as opposed to eating to lose weight, it’s a much more positive approach an in the ned the results are more beneficial and last a lifetime!