There is so much discussion of what to eat, what not to eat, what’s healthy, what we should be eating more of or less of. Then there are the vegetarians and vegans, paleo people, low-carb advocates, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and on and on. Everyone’s trying to find and advocate for the ‘perfect healthy diet.’
But what if the real question is not ‘what should I be eating?’ but rather ‘how should I be eating?’
Perhaps the bigger issue for our digestive systems is not the perfect diet, but rather a better way to approach food.
Truth be told, this may be the case for me. I’ve tried gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, grain-free, raw, paleo, etc and while sometimes I feel better, for the most part, none of those make much of a difference for my stomach. What I’m beginning to learn is, how I eat: mindset, distractions, speed, enjoyment, stress, sitting/standing/driving, rushed, quantity, etc is far more important than what I’m eating. How I eat determines how my stomach reacts and feels during and after eating, namely if its comfortable, bloated, upset, gassy, etc.
I’ve talked about this before on my blog:
- Stress and distracted thinking can cause indigestion
- Emotional connection in Chinese medicine where overthinking affects spleen/digestive function
- Stress can cause digestive disorders
But what’s more striking is, me + my blog, or even just TCM, are not the only ones looking at this. Nadya over at SpinachandYoga.com talks about eating and mindfulness; Maya Nahra has a whole coaching program on a behavioral approach to nutrition: no more emotional eating, yo-yo dieting and eating the right amount, not just the right foods.
The goal is to reduce digestive discomfort–bloating, nausea, indigestion, constipation, acid reflux, ulcers, diarrhea, overeating, under-eating, lethargy, and more–by addressing HOW we eat.
Maybe this is where the key discussions and real focus needs to be: how to eat in relaxed state, enjoy every bite, slow down to actually taste the food, recognize true hunger, eat to only 70% full, and be aware and conscious of how what we put in our mouth feels and how it affects our body. Maybe then we can stop worrying about whether something is within our self-prescribed diet.
Try this: before you put the next thing in your mouth, Pause. Sit down (not in a car) and take 5 long inhales and slow, smooth exhales. As you do this, feel inside your body: are you actually hungry? If so, what for? How would it taste? How would you eat it? Hot/cold? With a spoon/fork/chopsticks/hands? Proceed from there. Repeat before each meal.
What do you think?