If you are into your fitness you will be full aware of ‘mind to muscle connection’, but in this instance were going to talk about the ‘mind to gut connection’!
Your gut is like a second brain in your body. The digestive tract is technically known as the gastrointestinal tract and is 10 metres long so you can imagine how important it is for your food to be properly consumed to pass through 10 metres…
Digestion starts as soon as you think about, smell or see food you want to eat.
After the initial sense of digestion begins, the actual act of digestion then starts in the mouth, where the act of chewing food begins to physically break it down. Lading into the mouth are salivary glands, which produce saliva. Saliva lubricates the food to make it easy to swallow and it begins to break it down due to the action of the digestive enzyme ptyalin. Food will then pass down the throat to the stomach.
So it is good to chew – a lot, and most importantly MINDFULLY.
Mindful eating speaks to being mindful of both WHAT and HOW we eat. So it is important to be aware of what we are about to put in our mouths, as this will allow us to make more conscious decisions of the types of foods that may be toxic to both our gut and brain. For different people, different foods are more or less inclined to cause dysbiosis – the more processed the food, the more this may be an affect on those people.
Whereas, mindless eating can put pressure on our digestive system, simply by inhibiting stress hormones, which for some people can be the main cause of weight gain… It also takes away pleasure of enjoying your delicious food (that you may have spend 15-20min cooking!), then also of course it will hinder a functional gastrointestinal system. In contrast, eating mindfully reduces our stress hormones, gives our body the time and space it needs to thoroughly digest food, without the inflammation and allows us to engage with our sense of satiety, helping us to curb the over-eating that leaves us feeling uncomfortable.
So when it comes to mindful eating, we don’t have to have a set formal practice.
We can initially just begin by asking ourselves some key questions.
1. Tune in & listen to your body to stop eating at 80% full.
• Ask yourself – Why am I eating now: am I hungry, or craving something else?
2. Eat when your body tells you to eat.
i.e. rumbling stomach/ low in energy.
3. Be social and eat at a table, not in front of a TV or any electronic device.
• Ask yourself – What else am I doing now: am I about to eat something while I also read an article, or watch TV, or have a conversation? Give yourself permission to JUST eat.
4. Eat foods that are nutritionally healthy.
• Ask yourself – What am I eating now: will this choice serve my wellness in some way or will my body and mind regret this choice? You can think of this question as a cost-benefit analysis. It is OK to treat yourself to something that isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice, if it is in moderation. Yet, ask yourself if it is worth it, or will it wreak havoc to the point at which it is no longer even a treat?
5. Most importantly, CHEW your food (20+ bites).
• Because digestion comes down to chewing, taking the time to chew, and then chew again, helps the enzymes in our saliva do its job so that we can effectively absorb nutrients and get the most out of the food we are eating.