7 Tips For Better Eating Habits
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
7 Tips For Better Eating HabitsFight the Dreaded Food Coma
I hope that my new book The All-Day Energy Diet will help inspire you to make changes in your kitchen. Instead of clogging up your cupboards, refrigerator, and digestive system with caffeinated, carbonated energy drinks and sugary treats of all sorts, I hope you’re stocking up on wholesome, healthy foods that actually nourish you. It’s the crucial first step toward unlocking the kind of sustainable energy that you’re truly capable of. That said, this wonderful new diet will be of little use to you if your digestion isn’t in order.
Years of stress and bad eating can leave your stomach broken. If you’re suffering from low stomach acid or gut flora, your body lacks the ability to break down anything you eat properly, no matter how healthy it is. Without fixing your digestion, all of the rich minerals and vitamins in your healthy meals will go to waste.
Now don’t get too frustrated, and certainly don’t go tossing your fresh broccoli and kale in the garbage. Even if you suspect that your stomach isn’t in the best shape, you should know that getting your digestion going again isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, this process begins with one simple principle: how you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Let’s face it; most of us eat on autopilot, squeezing in meals during our too-short lunch breaks, or even in our car after we’ve made a frenzied detour through a fast-food restaurant’s drive-through lane. By the time we get home in the evening after a long day, dinner becomes the most robotic of rituals. Without our even realizing it, the very act of eating becomes tainted by the rush and stress that hangs over the rest of the day, and that’s where our digestive trouble begins. Think about it this way: how do you perform under high stress? Probably not as efficiently as you would otherwise. The same goes for your digestion.
As I have pointed out, digestion is not a process that takes place entirely in your stomach. In fact, it begins the minute you put a bite of food into your mouth. As such, if you’re eating on the move or in a hurry, you’re compromising the process your body needs to start breaking down your food for its long journey through your stomach, small intestine, and colon. Doing this can lead to indigestion and, in the long run, to myriad health conditions that emerge from improper digestion and a resulting weakened immune system.
I realize that this may be a little hard for you to wrap your head around. After all, how could eating takeout Chinese on the couch while you watch your favorite sitcom seriously impair your digestion? What follows is a brief outline of the ways your current eating practices are hurting you, and more important, how to get rid of these bad eating habits so that sitting down for a meal becomes the nourishing, regenerative act it’s supposed to be:
Step One: Appreciate What’s in Front of You
The next time you sit down to a meal, there’s something I’d like you to do: absolutely nothing. When your meal is ready, I’d like you to stop; look at it with appreciation; and take three long, slow breaths before you dig in. Take a moment to appreciate the food that you’re about to eat. By doing so, you’re not only detaching yourself from all your worldly worries, you’re also shifting the focus of your entire body and mind to the act of eating, in essence priming yourself for full and proper digestion.
Step Two: Be Mindful about Where You Eat
When was the last time you sat down and ate a meal at your dining table? With the pace of living in our modern world accelerating by the second, eating has become something we tend to do while we’re doing something else, be it driving the kids to school or working at our desk. Consider this a continuation of step one in that you’re trying to become more mindful of what you’re eating. There are two reasons for this: First, eating while you’re occupied doing something else means there’s some small level of stress and hyperactivity at work inside you; Second, when you focus entirely on your meal, you’re able to acknowledge when you’re full, feel satisfied, and don’t need to eat anymore. Eating becomes far less taxing on your body.
Step Three: Eat Slowly
This step can’t be overstated. It’s a natural progression from the first two steps in that now you’re approaching your food with a Zen-like calm, fully present as you take in your nourishment. Take your time. Eating slowly is the only way you can truly enjoy your meal.
Step Four: Chew Your Food!
The simple truth is this: if you want to digest your food properly, then you need to chew your food thoroughly. Chewing is perhaps the most underappreciated part of digestion. In a nutshell, chewing your food completely makes it easier for your body to process it. Just think of your mouth as your body’s blender. The more you blend, the easier it will be for the rest of your digestive tract to extract as many nutrients as possible from your food.
Step Five: Limit Drinking While You’re Eating
Let’s set the record straight: drinking during your meals is a big no-no. When you drink during your meal, you’re diluting the acid in your stomach, making your meal tougher to digest. It’s okay to take a few sips of water during your meal, but you certainly shouldn’t be chugging water while you eat.
Step Six: Take Digestive Enzymes or Acid Supplements with Your Meal
Once your digestive system starts to suffer, your body struggles to produce adequate amounts of enzymes that are needed to break down your meals. Because of this, you might want to consider boosting your enzyme levels up again by taking digestive enzymes in pill form with your meals.
What you want to look for is a full-spectrum digestive enzyme that contains lipases, amylases, and proteases, as these three categories of enzymes will get to work on nearly everything you eat—fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Similarly, acid supplements can work wonders as well.
Step Seven: Eat Less
When all is said and done, one of the best things you can do to improve your digestion is to eat less food. Most of us today simply do not need to eat as much food as we do, and don’t even realize how weighed down and slow we have become. Without question, the less you eat, the more energetic you will feel. Remember, digestion draws heavily on your body’s store of energy, so the more food you eat, the more of your energy will be directed toward digestion. The truth is that you should eat as you need to, no more and no less. To learn more tips, see my book, The All-Day Energy Diet.