WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
What is mindful eating and how can we practise it? Did you know that mindful eating can help with bloating and indigestion? This blog post will guide you to cultivate a better relationship with HOW we are eating.
The concept of mindful eating isn’t simply slowing down and chewing thoroughly, although thats part of it, and can in itself alleviate some of the more common digestive complaints like bloating and indigestion. In fact, mindful eating is about being more sensitive to the physical sensations of hunger and satiety because this can help us to cultivate a better relationship with how we are eating.
Essentially it is learning how to be positive, present and engage with our food and eating patterns. It also isn’t a new thing, it is just something that has been lost in the face of a manic lifestyle. In cultures around the work that maintain a positive focus on the importance of food and company at mealtimes, they don’t tend to have the same anxiety around food nor the prevalence of digestive conditions that have become all too omnipresent in our fast fuelled society.
01 HOW TO EAT
When we think about gut health the first (and often only) thing that we tend to focus on is the food we are eating. However, HOW we eat and the connection we have with our food can have such a momentous role in the optimum functioning of our gut and to nourish the gut-brain connection. Tuning into the process of eating, being more present with our plate and considering the role of meal timings are just a few ways where we can positively enhance the way we eat that can literally be game-changing for our gut health.
02 How do we eat more mindfully?
Start with the moment you get hungry and take a little bit of time to pause and reflect and tune into what you really need, if you need it at that moment with no judgement.
Listen to what your body is telling you it wants to eat rather than grabbing something without thought.
When you do decide to eat, evaluate your options and realise that the choice is entirely yours without trying to change or judge thoughts. This might mean broccoli one time and chocolate another for example.
Even before eating notice the shape and colours of the foods on the plate and at each bite tune into the texture, taste and aroma. Focusing our attention in this way is really important so that our gut and our mind can get the most nourishment out of the food.
Once finished tune into the true feeling of being pleasantly satiated and to allow the process of rest and digest to proceed, taking a moment to appreciate the meal that you have just eaten.
03 TIMING IS EVERYTHING
It is kind of obvious that the erratic and frenetic way in which many of us eat our meals can throw the gut out of whack but it is often something few of us acknowledge. Many of us are so out of the rhythm of our natural circadian rhythms and eating patterns that is no wonder our gut reflects this same haphazard routine.
Just think like our mind is tired by the end of the day so is our gut. As such movement through the gut slows down as well as a reduction in saliva production. This is why we can experience heightened feelings of bloating and indigestion if we eat too late at night. Never mind the fact that it interrupts our sleep quality and quantity.
Erratic eating timings can also throw the gut off course and there is definitely a happy balance to be had here too. Building in more established and regular feeding times can therefore help to get the gut back into more of a rhythm.
The intermittent fasting trend is one that has recently become very popular and sure it can work for some people. However like most things in gut health, and nutrition more generally, it isn’t best suited for everyone. Adopting more of a gentle time restricted eating (TRE) pattern of 12-13 hours of overnight fasting can be a lot more doable for most people and allow them to include this more consistently. So this could mean finishing all of your eating and drinking by 8pm and not having breakfast until 9am for example. Try to allow at least 2-3 hours after finishing your food before going to bed. TRE allows our gut microbes to perform the crucial process of cleaning up and clearing out which is really important for our gut health and how we manage inflammation in the body more systemically.
Alongside this trying to keep to a regular schedule of eating can help to maintain a rhythm with bowel movements as well as circadian rhythms which can have a positive impact on our gut. Sticking to meal times around the same kind of times day to day supports this regular routine allowing around 4-5 hours between each meal time.
And as well as establishing more of an eating routine, you can also give some additional help to get your gut into a more regular rhythm with KÄLLA RELIEF.
03 RE-CONNECT WITH THE PLATE
Connecting with what is on our plate might sound straightforward but how many of us actually do that? Nowadays we don’t even need to step into our kitchens to have meals at the ready. Apps and delivery services mean that with just a few clicks we can have food at our fingertips 24/7. And whilst these can be a convenient way of helping us to manage our busy lives it does massively forgo the actual process of making a meal which feeds into a general disconnection with our food and often disrupts the gut-brain connection.
Sure we can cite time as an issue but the reality is that as soon as we have usually wolfed down said delivery meal it is often just a case of getting back to endless scrolling or emails etc. We do have time, we just need to spend it on something that is far more nourishing. Moreover, most of us do feel a real sense of achievement having made a meal ourselves as well as invariably a greater appreciation and enjoyment of the food in front of us. The very act of cooking can also engage the mind in something that isn’t about work or worries and we can use it as a meditative process.
The other part of this is that allowing time to prepare our meals typically involves cooking from scratch which is also good news for our gut microbes. Lots of the highly ultra-processed food including many fast food outlets can be laden with chemicals and additives that we know to be detrimental to our the health of our gut.
So taking some dedicated time to invest in our meals and valuing these moments to sit and savour can have such a positive benefits for both our gut and our mind.
04 Have a dinner date with yourself
Neurogastronomy is a term coined by neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd and refers to an interdisciplinary meeting of neuroscience and psychology. To simplify that it really means our ‘brain on flavour’ and relates to the way we use senses such as smell, sounds and sights in addition to taste when we enjoy a meal.
Think about it…it is highly unlikely that you would eat a meal and focus ONLY on the flavours. If you think about a really great dinner that you have had in the past you would recall the aroma of the dishes being prepared, the ambience of the restaurant, the company, sounds of the corks popping and glasses chinking, and the way that the food is presented all contribute to your dining experience and make it all that more pleasurable.
So why reserve this just for meals out? Setting an appropriate ‘scene’ for all our meals is really an important part of how we engage with our food and the experience of eating which is an important part of supporting the gut-brain connection.
Even the most simplest of meals can be transformed into a multi-sensory experience by framing it more consciously…
Choose a nice plate to present your food rather than eating straight from the packaging
Use proper cutlery
Select a nice napkin
Sit in an area away from other distractions and devices (put your phone in a drawer)
Look at your food and take time to enjoy it and you will watch your senses heighten and taste buds soar!
Eve Kalinik, Gut Health Specialist
Nutritional Therapist, Author and Podcaster, Eve Kalinik believes that having a healthy gut is fundamental to our overall well-being. She is a registered member of (BANT)(CNHC) and accredited by (IFM).