4 Steps to Boost Your Digestive Health

Pop Quiz… 

Don’t worry! We will make it easy with options for you to choose from.

Okay. Here’s the question! Don’t skip to the answer. If you get it right, reward yourself with a 1-minute break of light stretching at your desk.

Which factor tops the list when it comes to achieving healthy digestion? Select the most correct answer from the options below.

a.     The types of food we eat (e.g. organic, whole food, etc.).

b.     The amount of food we eat.

c.     The timing of when we eat our meals (e.g. late at night, before a workout).

d.     The environment in which we eat (e.g. at our desk, at a kitchen table).

e.     All of the above.

The answer is ‘e. All of the above’.

The choices we make in our food feel most important. We worry about choosing organic or whole foods. We spend time tracking down recipes for low carbohydrate or high fat foods, and become over consumed with tracking calories. 

Now let’s take a big step back from what we eat and look at how we eat it. We are, after all, what we eat, digest, absorb, and assimilate.

Digestive Health 1.jpg

Much of this process has to do with the environment in which we eat. Do you eat through your lunch break? In front of the television? Eat with one hand on the wheel while pulling out of the drive through?

Putting ourselves in a stressful situation shifts our body from a ‘rest and digest’ state into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. In the fight or flight mode, our bodies tense up and shut down functions not critical to our survival. In the ‘rest and digest’ state, we allow digestion to begin naturally.

Digestion begins in the brain. When we see and smell our food, our mouths begin to salivate and we ready ourselves to eat. This is an important neurological stimulation to get the body primed and prepared for digestion.

 

Meet the 4 C’s of Diet and Digestion

For a moment, take the pressure off yourself and worry less about choosing the robustly-colored salad with organic chicken and a homemade salad over the burger and fries. Your choice won’t make a difference unless you get your ABC’s of diet and digestion nailed down.

Article_ABCs2.jpg

I call these ABCs the ‘4 C’s of Diet and Digestion’.

Copy these 4 C’s and related questions out and post them somewhere in the space you eat:

  • Choose: Use this guideline to extend the benefits of the food you choose. Select nourishing, non-processed, whole foods 80 percent of the time.
  • Chew: Feel the texture of the food that you are eating. Be fully present on the task of eating the food which will nourish your body. My favorite trick? Putting down my spoon between bites to slow my eating.
  • Chill: Set aside at least 30 minutes to relax and enjoy your meal. Step away from your desk and avoid eating on the run. If you are a chronically fast eater, aim to extend your meal time for an extra five minutes per week. You can also choose the one meal you know you eat too quickly and tackle it head-on. Take three to five big belly breaths before eating this meal to get your body in a ‘rest and digest’ state.
  • Cherish: Feel good about the food that you are eating. Get connected with what it took for the universe to get this food to you: the farmers, the earth, the grocery store – even the hard work and preparation it took for the man or woman preparing the food at your favourite restaurant. You can even try to consciously pick out the smell of the food and how many colors you have on your plate before eating to activate a moment to ‘Cherish’.

Invite a bit of playfulness into your life and see how you can reward yourself each time you practice the 4C’s. Becoming more empowered around your food choices is important. It is also essential to become more mindful around the ABCs of your digestion! 

Your Action Steps:

  • Print Out and Post the 4C’s;

  • Practice the 4C’s Daily