Many of us are guilty of it. And, many of us really don’t know that it is something we can be “guilty of”. What is it? Multitasking while eating. Our standard lifestyle is fast and there never seems to be enough time in the day. So, what do we do? We eat on the run, we eat while working, and we sit in front of the TV with our favorite snack or meal. Big deal, right? Well, it turns out that it actually is a big deal when it comes to our gut-brain axis and overall health.
There are over 1,000 species of tens of trillions of bacteria in your body. Together, these bacteria play a crucial role in gut health and overall health and make up what’s often referred to as the gut microbiome. These bacteria are largely responsible for important body functions and have the capability to affect the body’s mineral and vitamin absorbency, digestion, hormone regulation, immune response, and the body’s ability to get rid of toxins.
Courtesy of the gut-brain axis, the gut microbiome actually has an influence on your mind and how you feel. Your gut and brain are directly connected. As a matter of fact, the two are “hardwired” together by the vagus nerve, connected by the enteric nervous system (ENS), connected by some 500 million neurons, and connected biochemically by more than 30 various neurotransmitters, some of which are produced by certain species of the gut microflora. In simple terms, they have a direct impact on one another. When your gut is happy, so is your brain and vice versa.
Ok, so we know that a healthy gut promotes a healthy brain and vice versa. With that, it’s important to note how stress and emotions impact the gut. Stress dwells in the nervous system but manifests its scary face in different bodily functions. The intimate relationship between the gut and the brain provides a direct line for stress and anxiety and can wreak havoc on the gut.
So, the question is, can the lifestyle choices we make foster a healthy gut and a healthy mind? Of course, there are a variety of lifestyle choices we can make, but today’s focus is on mindful eating. So, what exactly is mindful eating and why is it important?
Simply put, it’s being mindful of our meals and what we are putting in our bodies. It’s paying attention to what we eat, when we eat, and mostly how we eat. Everything we put in and on our bodies has an effect on the gut microbiome. It can either contribute to a healthy gut microbiome or can do just the opposite and contribute to dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut bacteria.
What does multitasking while eating have to do with any of this? It comes back to stress. When we eat on the run and fail to pay attention to the food that is nourishing our bodies we are not only eating under stress which can cause a whole host of problems, but we are not enjoying our meal or setting the body up to properly digest.
Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored. It’s meant to nourish our bodies and contribute to a healthy life and gut. Eating mindfully allows us to experience food as we should. So, how do we do it? What are the requirements for eating mindfully so we can nourish both the body and mind? Glad you asked. Here are six tips to get started with mindful eating.
- Listen to your body. Your body is smart and is constantly communicating with you. When it comes time to eat, listen to your body’s cues. Eat when your body tells you to and stop before you are full.
- Be present. As hard as it may be, take time to just eat. Let go of distractions like technology, work, and your to-do list when eating. Allow yourself to just be present with your food.
- Savor the taste. Food is meant to be both delicious and nutritious. Enjoy all that your food brings including aromas, textures, and taste.
- Cook and eat while in a good mood. Many of us are prone to “stress eating” or “emotional eating”. When your emotions or stress send you to the pantry or vending machine, pause and ask yourself what you can do to help ease these feelings because chances are food is not the answer. If you are truly hungry, enjoy your meal without judging your emotions.
- Don’t hurry. Yes, there are a million things to do but fueling your body and mind is just as important as everything else on your to-do list. Carve out time to enjoy your meal. Take your time and eat slowly.
- Respect your body and your health. Remember, everything we put in or on our bodies impacts our wellness and overall health. Respect your body by feeding it the nutrients it craves and deserves. When you do, it will thrive for you.
When incorporated daily, these small practices can make a huge difference in the way you view your food and yourself. Paired with healthy recipes and dishes, mindful eating is the bridge from your body to your mind.
As you know, creating and sticking with new wellness habits can be difficult. For this reason, and many more, we created the 30 Day Gut Reboot, a family of techniques designed to support a healthy gut and a healthy mind. Surrounded by a community of like-minded people who are on their own health journey, paired with a clear roadmap and expert interviews, the 30 Day Gut Reboot can help support you on your wellness journey.
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