A study in 2007 found that nearly 90 percent of Americans suffer from indigestion, and 70 percent reported a problem with digestion every day. It’s important to look after our digestion system, and when we experience any form of digestive discomfort or issue, it’s usually a sign that something is off kilter.
If you experience ongoing symptoms of indigestion, always refer to a qualified physician to discover the underlying cause and treatment, but by implementing these seven steps during meal times, it can make a great difference in our overall well-being and improve our digestive function.
Sit down to eat
To properly digest our food, we need to be in a relaxed state and allow our bodies to turn focus toward digesting. Ever notice that when you are running around while eating or eating very quickly while trying to accomplish something else that you end up with an upset stomach or excessive belching? Sit down, eat slowly, and thoroughly chew your food before swallowing to help it properly digest.
Take a few deep breaths before you begin eating and bring your attention to your food. The digestion process begins before we even put the food into our mouths, so taking a moment to begin this process will help your body relax and better digest. Pay attention as you eat to the smell of the food, the tastes and textures as you chew. Feel it enter your esophagus and move into your stomach, and take notice of how your stomach feels, when the feeling of hunger goes away, and you feel satisfied. Practicing this mindfulness while eating will also help prevent us from mindless overeating.
Drink room temperature or warm fluids, preferably water
Very cold beverages can dilute your body’s digestive enzymes which are needed to properly break down and absorb the nutrients of our foods, so sticking to smaller sips of room temperature or even warmer fluids, preferably pure water, will aid in the digestive process rather than inhibit it.
Look for other sources of emotional satisfaction
Our need for food is often entangled with our emotions or our desires for love and understanding. This can lead to “emotional eating”, like when we turn to ice cream after a break up or splurge on an extra serving of mashed potatoes when we’re already full. This “comfort” may bring short term satisfaction, but it can be detrimental to both our mental and physical well-being. By practicing mindfulness, like mentioned earlier, and disconnecting our eating patterns from emotional relationships, we can continue to achieve and develop a healthy digestive process. Qualified professionals can assist if you are having trouble with emotional eating, but looking for emotional support from other channels of our lives can help prevent and diminish our desires of tying emotions to food. Connecting with friends and supportive family members, taking a walk in nature, connecting with a pet, singing, and dancing are great examples that can provide emotional satisfaction away from food.
Eating foods that our gut doesn’t like will cause a form of indigestion. If experiencing frequent indigestion, keeping a log and paying attention to how you feel after eating certain foods can help pinpoint the foods that might be causing distress. Consult a qualified professional about an elimination diet if you feel there are certain foods that you may be experiencing an intolerance with.
Our digestive system “shuts down” when our “fight or flight” response of our nervous system is turned on (stress). If we are in a state of chronic stress, this can lead to ongoing poor digestive function and nutrient absorption. Centering your focus and finding a calm, stress free environment to eat can help reduce those stressors temporarily, but finding ways to cut out daily stress is even more important for longevity of a healthy digestive system.
Garden your Gut
We need to feed the healthy bacteria in our gut with prebiotics and include plenty of fiber in our diets found in many vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Including foods such as these help to lower blood cholesterol levels, keep the bowels moving, and balance our blood sugar levels. A healthy gut flora is a key component of digestion and nutrient absorption.
Becoming more mindful of our eating patterns and habits can help us better our digestive function and help improve our quality of life.
Try the recipe below to aid in sluggish digestion:
- 2 oz. Chamomile
- 2 oz. Fennel
- 2 oz. Peppermint
- 1 oz. Ground Ginger
- 1 oz. Ground Cinnamon
- Create a mix of the above dried herbs
- Infuse 1 teaspoon of the above mixture in a mug of hot water for 15 minutes.
Refer to your qualified practitioner if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms of indigestion.
by IFBB PRO JESSICA DOLIAS
Bombshell VIP Coach
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Weight Management Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer