Heartburn, bloating, gas, and irregularity – all very uncomfortable feelings that indicate your digestive system is not working properly. The gut is a complex system of organs, enzymes and compounds that function to digest food and absorb nutrients. But time and time again, I see this vital system not functioning optimally. While an imbalance can occur from food sensitivities, antibiotic use, microorganism overgrowth and reduced digestive enzymes, many symptoms of digestive upset are related to the lost art of dining.

Gone are the days when our meals were taken at the exact same time everyday and eaten at the dinner table with minimal technological stimulation. Instead, we eat on the run, in front of the TV and even skip meals all together, leading to an upset tummy and weight gain. We need to re-establish those 1950’s eating patterns so that our gut and waistline are happy.

10 Commandments of Healthy Eating:

Eat only when hungry

But, do not wait until you are starving to eat. You will end up eating a lot faster, which prevents the “satiated” signal from getting to your brain and you will choose more high-calorie vs nutritious foods.

Eat only when seated, and not seated in front of a computer or television, but at a table.

Eat slowly and chew your food, putting down your utensils between each bite. Savour each bite by using all five senses.

Leave room on your plate. If you fill it with food, you may feel obligated to eat everything, despite feeling satiated. And it is OK to leave food on your plate if you are full!

Before reaching for a second portion, wait 10 minutes. This allows time for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. If you are still hungry, have equal portions of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates.

Stop eating at 8 pm or do not eat for 12 hours after having a late meal. For example, if you eat dinner at 10 pm, do not have breakfast until 10 am.

Do not eat when you are angry, upset or stressed. This stimulated state impairs the release of digestive enzymes and not only leads to indigestion, but also ulcers and heartburn if chronic.

Stop drinking fluids 15 minutes before and start 15 minutes after your meal as liquids dilute your digestive juices and reduce their ability to breakdown and process nutrients.

Prepare your own food. This is the first step in enjoying food via smell, taste and sight and it stimulates the digestive system to work optimally.

Food is all about nourishment and enjoyment, but not comfort. Savour and revel in the art of dining, enjoying every deliciously, nutritious bite!

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