“You are what you eat.” could be better said “You are what you absorb.” Eating a healthy diet can help us have more energy, sleep more deeply and have more clarity in our thinking. But even the healthiest foods won’t have as much of an impact on our health if we are not absorbing their valuable nutrients. Bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, and low energy are signs we are not absorbing our food well. See below for how to make changes and feel better without taking a thing.
Sit down to eat
Sitting down allows the body to come into the right alignment so the organs of digestion, the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines are in just the right place to break down food. It’s a way transitioning from the activities of the day to honoring this time of nourishing yourself. It also allows the parasympathetic system of your body aka the “rest and digest” system to become activated. (Note: eating while driving doesn’t count!)
Experiment: When you find yourself standing and eating, notice that. Take the opportunity to find a chair and finish what you are eating, even if just an almond or two, or just a nibble as you head out the door. What happens inside your inner world as you move from standing to sitting?
Chew your food, then chew some more.
Not only do the smaller particles of food present less work for your digestive enzymes, chewing also allows the enzymes in the saliva to mix and mingle with the food that is being crushed and broken down in the mouth. Most of us could benefit from slowing down the speed at which we eat. A slower pace provides us the opportunity to take time with our meals and savor every morsel. It also increases the chance that we will receive the message that we have eaten enough earlier rather than too late, saving us from an uncomfortable overfed belly.
Experiment: When you would normally swallow what you have eaten, pause and chew 10 more times. Try this for a few days. What do you notice?
When you eat, eat.
When it comes to meal time, multi-tasking decreases efficiency. Digestion works best when the mind is not distracted by other activities. A peaceful environment in the outer dining room contributes to a peaceful environment in the inner environment of your body. With this calm and focused attention, organs of digestion function best, secreting just the right amount of enzymes, hydrochloric acid, bile and insulin and can most easily extract the energy and nutrients stored in your food.
Experiment: Invite all of your senses to be engaged with the delicious process of eating, notice how the variety of colors and textures on the plate, take in a deep breath and smell the aroma of what has just been prepared, taste the subtler flavors of the vegetables you take in. Maybe even set aside utensils and exchange them for crackers and bread to get your fingers closer to what you eat. This can be way more interesting than watching TV, playing on your cell phone or reading the news while you eat.