Eating When Rushed? You Could Be Hindering Your Digestion!
Many of us get into a habit of eating over the sink, grabbing something quick on the way out of the house/eating in the car, or rushing through our lunch as we try to multi-task with work. It has become normal to eat in a stressed and rushed manner.
Our state of mind while eating has a large impact on our ability to properly digest food. Taking the time to sit, think, and chew food thoroughly will not only help with digestion but your meal will truly satiate you! This may mean eating less food overall less, and the after-meal bloat will be a thing of the past.
Does it really make a difference?
YES! The body reacts physiologically to stressors that affect our digestive process. Our autonomic nervous system and the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system are parts of our Central Nervous System that indicate changes in our body while we consume food.
Eating in a rush and under stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which alerts the “fight or flight” response.
In this state, the endocrine system releases cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine and other hormones into the body. These are survival hormones. They interfere with digestion because functions that are not immediately crucial in a survival mode - such as digestion, are shut down to some degree. Your muscles contract, saliva production is reduced and your stomach stops many of the functions of digestion.
Eating under fewer stress conditions, the parasympathetic nervous system activates the “rest and digest” response.
The body slows down and in this state relaxes and repairs. It produces hormones and other digestive components which are necessary to maintain overall health balance. Your muscles relax, saliva is increased, and gastric secretions (ex: stomach acid, digestive enzymes) are increased to break down carbohydrates, fats, proteins from food.
My tips for slowing down & improving digestion:
In general, it is best to avoid drinking a large quantity of water while eating. Instead, take small sips (do not guzzle). The temperature should not be ice cold (this contracts blood vessels and can restrict proper digestion).
Allow enough time to eat, at least 15 minutes for main meals.
Before eating - take an extra 10 seconds to look down at your plate. Observe the different colours, smells, and textures of what is on your plate. The sight, smell, and anticipation of food is the first step in the digestive process.
Wait until you are in a calm state, before eating.
If you are uncontrollably hungry & this causes you to want to eat quickly, then this may mean that you have waited too long to eat. Building up an apetite is good, however you should not feel starved. Reflect - are there any gaps during the day that can be adjusted?
Put your fork and knife down after each bite.
Focus on chewing until mostly liquified.