How do you eat your food?

I realise this might be quite a weird question to pose, especially as a blog post. And yes, I am talking about how you eat your food rather than what kind of food your eating.

The way that we eat our food can affect us in a number of ways. In fact, the way in which we eat our food can dramatically affect the effect food has on our body. Below I’ve listed a few common issues with how we eat our food, the effect it has, and how we can resolve them. So with no further adieu, here are some common issues with how we eat our food:

1. We eat our food too quickly

Let’s take it back to basics, actually I’m going to take it back to GCSE biology. Starting with the digestive system. Your digestion starts in your mouth. As well as your teeth breaking down the food, our saliva contains enzymes that also aid the food break-down process. If we rush this process, the food won’t break down as much as it’s supposed to. What does this mean? Well, if the food we eat isn’t broken down properly, it puts much more pressure on the rest of our digestive system to do the job. This can lead to discomfort, pain and bloating.

So, how can we chew more?

When we chew our food properly we get a much better absorption of nutrients, especially amino acids which our body is not able to store. Also, when we chew we produce more saliva which helps remineralise teeth and restore the pH levels of your mouth after eating acids and sugars₁ – basically it’s good for your teeth to chew!

Even being aware of the fact that we need to chew more helps. It’s suggested you should chew your food 20-30 times! Yep, that seems a bit mental, but even chewing a few more times when you eat will have some benefit. I also try and put down my knife and fork between each mouthful. Personally I find it really hard to eat slowly – for as long as I can remember I’ve been a scoffer / quick eater. I think it was from growing up where if you didn’t eat quickly, you didn’t get seconds!

(No I’m not pregnant – this is me bloated, after eating dinner at my desk after a long stressful day. I’m not normally a bloater but read below to understand why).

2. Our environment / situation

Where do you eat your food? Is it sat at a desk working? Watching an intense film or documentary? On the move rushing between one thing and the next? Where we eat our food affects how we absorb our food. For us to get the full benefit of the food we eat, our bodies need to be in a ‘rest and digest‘ state (the parasympathetic nervous system is activated). When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, our heart rates drop and our digestion increase. If we’re don’t give eating-time proper value through being relaxed when we eat, for whatever the reason may be, our bodies will be in ‘fight or flight’ mode (the sympathetic nervous system is activated). This means the blood is directed away from our digestive system to our limbs, meaning we can’t digest the food properly. This again can lead to bloating, gastro pain and sometimes not-so-nice poos.

For those of you who are prone to bloating – have you noticed you can eat what you want on holiday and you don’t bloat? Yep, it’s because you’re relaxed, and your digestive system can do it’s thaaaang.

So make sure you take time to sit down and eat your food in a relaxed state, be it with friends, maybe outside in the sun, or just on your own at the table. The food you eat nourishes you and fuels your day, it deserves some time.

3. Our mental health / relationship with food

I want to talk about this point because I see it so often in my friends. They get stressed about eating. They think it’s going to make them ‘fat’ or bloat. Before the food has even gone in their mouth they’ve set themselves up for a fail. Why? Because they’re stressed that ‘fight or flight’ mode is switched on, and as mentioned above, this can lead to digestive problems.

I have a lot of friends who say, ‘I could eat this one day but not the next’. If this is the case, it’s probably not the food that’s the issue but your relationship with the food. Your mental health may be different each day which may affect how you approach the food you’re eating. I understand this can be a sensitive subject, and quite a difficult one to overcome, but by looking at the food from a loving perspective, you’re much less likely to bloat. Try and think of all the goodness that the food is giving you, nourishing you from the inside. You can even try taking some deep belly breaths to switch on the rest and digest system.

So there we have it, how we eat our food can massively impact our digestive system and the nourishment we get from the food. I hope there are some tips that you can take away from this and as always, if you have any questions, please holla. I’m all ears.

Love Emma x

REFERENCES:

  1. Tandra Dental Care, 2020, Are you paying attention to how you chew your food?, https://www.tandaradental.com.au/are-you-paying-attention-to-how-you-eat-is-there-a-right-way-to-chew-your-food/

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