Are Bad Digestive Habits Holding you Back?
Do you feel tired, bloated, or uncomfortable after eating? Chances are you’re making at least one common digestive health mistake. If you recognize any of the bad habits below, it might be time for a refresher in healthy digestion.
Bad Digestive Habits
It’s hard to leave that last cookie alone when you know just how tasty it’ll be! However, portion control is the number one way to cut calories and still enjoy your favorite foods. Using smaller plates and bowls can help you avoid overeating, and the subsequent bloating and overstuffed feeling that comes with it.
Eating On the Go
How many of us grab lunch when we’re in a rush or eat breakfast in the car? If you’re constantly inhaling your food, you’re depriving your digestion of an important step – chewing. Additionally, rushing mealtime may leave you uncomfortably full.
Late Night Snacking
While you’re sleeping, your body is busy repairing itself – and nothing gets in the way of this important work more than a full stomach. If your body is busy digesting, you may find your sleep is disturbed and you don’t wake as rested. You’ll be better off if you stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. To wean off your late-night chocolate habit, switch to light carbohydrate snacks, such as cereal or a piece of toast.
Fiber is essential to keeping your bowels regular and maintaining digestive health. You should get at least 30 g of fiber a day – luckily, fiber doesn’t have to mean a dry bran muffin! Seek out plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, seeds, and whole grains. Supplements containing fiber and nutrients that nourish your digestive tract can also help break bad habits and promote gastrointestinal health.
Drinking Too Much
Consuming too much of any liquid – even water – while you eat, is a bad idea. It can leave you feeling bloated and even contribute to acid reflux.
Missing Breakfast or Lunch
Skipping meals does your energy levels no favors, and can mean overeating later in the day. It’s okay to opt for lighter meals, but be sure to incorporate protein at breakfast and lunch.
Healthy Digestive Habits
Here’s a crash course in healthy digestive habits:
Have a glass of water (with lemon, if you like) half an hour before eating to stimulate digestive juices.
Activate your parasympathetic nervous system – the one in charge of your “rest and digest” mode – by pausing before you eat and taking a few slow, deep breaths.
Look – really look – at what’s on your plate. Pay attention to the texture and taste of what you eat, and you’ll find a growing appreciation for healthy, nourishing foods.
Chewing properly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve digestion. Saliva is full of enzymes that start digesting your food in your mouth. When you don’t chew enough, your stomach and pancreas end up working overtime. Try to chew each bite 30 times.
Make mealtimes special by eating at the table, and avoid multi-tasking. Take advantage of that extra time spent chewing to put your fork down. You’ll find you eat less and get full sooner.
Spend a few minutes after meals checking in with your body. Notice how those foods made you feel: full, bloated, warm, cold, tired, energized, etc… Listening to your body’s cues will help you figure out which foods are right for you.