We’re all prone to a little indulgence at Christmas, but rich food and overeating can play havoc with your digestion, leaving you bloated or with heartburn, indigestion and general digestive discomfort.
Here are my top 5 starter tips to improving your digestion overall.
1 Be mindful and slow down
It may sound an incredibly simple step – and it is – but these days we are often so busy that we don’t make the time to actually enjoy the process of preparing and eating our food. If you find you’re always eating on the go, throwing a sandwich down your neck at your desk or eating in the car, this is a vital step you are missing out on.
Try to be a little more mindful and slow down. If you eat very quickly you won’t digest your food properly, you are more likely to overeat, leaving you feeling full, bloated and uncomfortable.
2 Chew your food
You are not a snake! Don’t swallow your food in one go. Chew your food. Again, a simple tip but many of us don’t chew our food enough.
With proper chewing, you are mechanically breaking down the food into smaller pieces, so that there’s a greater surface area for your digestive enzymes to get to work.
If you’re not chewing properly, it’s highly likely that you’re not digesting your food properly. And that means you won’t be absorbing the vital nutrients either. Not chewing also means the food you eat takes much longer to break down, and, as it hangs around in your digestive system, it can start to ferment, causing uncomfortable wind, gas and bloating.
Chew your food enough so that if someone asked you to spit it out, they wouldn’t know what you had been eating. Another sign you need to chew more is if you start to see undigested food in your stools.
3 Watch your portion size
We sometimes hugely over-estimate how much food that our body can handle in one sitting. Our stomachs are much smaller than we think.
A really simple thing to think about is this. How do we feel after our meals? Do you feel stuffed and tired or do we feel satiated and light? If you routinely feel overly full then it’s possible that you need some digestive support or that your eyes are bigger than your belly and you need to hold back a little on the quantity of food. Also follow steps 1 and 2.
4 Give your gut a break
It’s important to space out your meals so the digestive system actually gets a chance to rest. This might require some self-discipline if your house is routinely full of boxes of sweets and tubs of chocolate.
It’s good to give the body enough time to completely digest the previous meal and have a break before you put it to work again. Of course there will be days when your eating routine falls out of whack, and that’s ok too but generally speaking, grazing all day is not good for your gut.
5 Walk it off
When you walk shortly after you’ve eaten, good things start to happen. To start, a gentle walk lowers your blood sugar levels, so your body makes less insulin. As insulin is the fat-storage hormone, taking a gentle stroll for even 15 minutes makes you less likely to store fat and gain weight. According to research, walking can also help you digest your food better. This is because a gentle walk increases the speed at which the food moves through the digestive system.
Try out these very simple tips for yourself this Christmas and see if any of your symptoms improve. If you have been struggling with digestive problems for a while, let’s book in a free digestive health check. I can help you understand what might be going on in your gut and take greater steps towards a resolution.
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