Healthy Habits to Honour Your Digestive System in the New Year

Back in 2013 I posted about my visit to Jen of My Edible Advice and how much I loved sitting down to discover which foods my body is sensitive to. I have now gone to see Jen three times and the last time was this past summer. I decided I needed to get to know my body again after having Thomas and it was the perfect place to start. I was deficient in a LOT of vitamins and minerals which is common in nursing mom's. It’s really neat that your body figures out a way to get your baby the nutrition it needs, it can literally suck the life out of you in the process. I discovered that I am now sensitive to corn, coconut and sugar. As a lover of mexican food it was difficult cutting out corn but with a few easy changes to my diet I did that one overnight. Coconut of all forms had become a daily staple in my diet so that one was a struggle but I made it happen. Sugar has been hit or miss but luckily I've figured out a way to limit it. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to cut it out completely.

I realized quickly the importance of taking care of your digestive system because I noticed a difference right away after making those changes. This year I’m doing something a little different with my resolutions (a post on that will follow) but I really want to start being kinder to my body. One of the ways I want to accomplish that is by focusing on taking care of my digestive system. Since Jen was such a help in guiding me in the right direction this past summer, and with 2018 only a few days away I asked Jen to share three of her favourite (easy) tips for honouring our digestive systems that we can start in the new year.

Healthy Habits to Honour Your Digestive System 

Relax when you eat.
The digestive system only works properly when we are relaxed and at ease. This is because the first level of digestion occurs in the mind and brain. When we eat in a relaxed manner we will taste our food and become absorbed in the process of nourishing ourselves.  Slow down, light a candle, and put your phone away…. after you share you epic creation on Insta, of course. Eating in a distracted way, for example watching TV or having involved conversation during our meals will take us away from the relaxed and absorbed state. This will disengage the brain and mind from digestion and lead to all sorts of digestive and systemic difficulties. Remember, there are two parts of the Autonomic Nervous System. The sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” response, prepares our bodies for action and the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) helps produce a state of equilibrium in the body. Peace, love, and bon appetite! 

Skipping meals is not your waistline’s friend.
Most people assume that by skipping meals you will loose weight more readily. That is simply not true. By skipping meals our blood sugar levels will be a mess and we will actually store extra fat by lowering metabolic rates. Pack healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables or nuts and seeds ahead of time so you are set up for success.

Overeating isn’t much of a pal, either. Overeating is one of our biggest faults. We should never eat until we are so full we have to unbutton our pants. Eat slowly, and give your body a chance to feel full. Acquire the habit of eating slowly so you can stop when you are satisfied, not full; the brain needs about 20 minutes to get the "not hungry anymore" signal. Chew, chew, and then chew some more!

Focus on hydration between meals.
Proper hydration is key to good health, but timing is everything. Bloating is one of the number one client concerns I see in my private practice. I always challenge my clients to avoid drinking water with meals to see if that is the magic ticket, which it often is! The thing is, water dilutes the acid and enzymes of the stomach. The stomach functions to turn the food we eat into a 100 degree soup. Therefore it needs some fluid, but this fluid is better had in the form of broth or light tea which does not dilute digestive secretions like water. Sipping hot tea or eating soup will help our stomach to make our meal the appropriate consistency. This will decrease the workload and energy expenditure of the stomach and digestive system and increase our absorption power and overall vitality.

General Guideline: 0.5 ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirement in Ounces. 

Dehydration can cause an increase in body temperature leading to a decrease blood volume, muscular endurance and strength.
Water can help to suppress your appetite when you find yourself needing an unnecessary snack.
Proper hydration helps the body metabolize stored fat and reduces fat deposits.

Jennifer Brott
Principal Nutritionist and Founder of
My Edible Advice Nutritional Consulting

Thank you so much for sharing these tips, Jen! I always eat way too quickly so this was a great reminder. I also feel bloated after eating on a regular basis so I think I will be switching to tea during my meals!

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