For many people, mindful eating is a completely new concept but when implemented on a daily basis they soon begin to experience less bloating, reduced heartburn, more regular bowel movements and diminished flatulence or gas.
Mindful eating also helps you to create a better connection with your food and the planet.
So what is mindful eating?
Does this mean that you have to meditate before, during or after you eat? No - but that's not a bad idea either! Mindful eating has been around for hundreds (or maybe thousands) of years with its roots in Eastern philosophies and I was first introduced to it through yoga.
I'm sure you can relate to polishing off a bag of chips or scraping the bottom of a Ben and Jerry's ice cream tub after a bad day at work or an argument with your significant other, am I right? I've been there too!
Those are examples of unconscious/subconscious eating. Mindful eating on the other hand, is an exercise that submerges your entire consciousness in the act of eating. When you learn to eat mindfully, you choose with intention to eat foods that are nourishing and nutrient dense. You will begin to naturally make wiser food choices and also gain a better appreciation for your food and where it comes from.
But when we're talking about mindful eating for better digestion, it actually has more to do with HOW you eat opposed to WHAT you eat.
Digestion really starts before you even put a piece of food into your mouth. The sight, smell and anticipation of food will trigger the gut brain connection and your body will begin to prepare for food. Your mouth will begin to salivate which contains amylase (an enzyme) to help break down carbohydrates, your gallbladder will secrete bile to emulsify fats, and your stomach will produce hydrochloric acid which is required for assimilation of all vitamins and minerals.
When we have little to do with our food preparation we miss out on this cephalic phase of digestion which leads to poorly digested foods that create gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and so on. Taking time to prepare your own food is key to good digestion!
A few other things to consider for mindful eating include:
Sitting down to eat in a relaxed environment
Chewing your food more thoroughly and eating slowly
Not drinking too much liquids with meals (this depletes your enzymes)
Only eating when you are actually hungry
Expressing gratitude for your food (especially animal sources)
When it comes to WHAT you are eating just try to remind yourself that "you are what you eat". The foods that you eat literally become the raw materials that make up your body and can create a state of health or disease. Ask yourself if you want to be a junk food meal burger and fries or a colourful and nourishing salad.