The Holiday Balancing Act
Part 3 - Digestion
In it’s simplest form, digestion is the process of breaking down food particles to be absorbed through the small intestine into the blood stream and assimilated from the blood stream to produce energy. As we discussed previously, disruptions in our daily routines can throw off many of the systems in our bodies and the Digestive System is no different. And, while the Digestive System is very complex in it’s function, there are a few simple things that you can do to help you absorb and assimilate your food.
- Stress. Stress hurts for many reasons—digestion included. When we are on the go, in our cars, or at our desks working, shoveling our food in quickly between appointments, meetings or other to-dos, we are constantly in a state of stress. When we don’t take the time to sit down, or sit still and allow the process of digestion to really begin, our ability to assimilate our food really takes a punch. Our bodies are wired to digest and eat in a parasympathetic (relaxed) state; you’ve already lost the battle if you practice stressful eating habits. Simply Slow down.
- Planning– This piggy backs on stress and sounds so simple, but it is overlooked so often. When our schedules become overloaded, the simple act of planning your meals in advance can pay huge dividends in our ability to digest the foods we consume. Two days, Four days or the entire week, the more you can plan your meals to coincide with a busy schedule, the more likely you are to stay on track and reach your goals. Plan Ahead.
- Chew, Chew, Chew – When our food is not properly chewed, our digestion is going to struggle with the chore of having to break down food more so than usual in the stomach and intestines. Put your fork down between bites. Chew your food until you can no longer tell what it formerly was (i.e. a piece of chicken should taste like chicken still…but be like a wad of saliva-glazed chicken after you’re finished chewing). 30 + chews per bite.
- Food Quality – Holiday Foods, quick bites and fast food are all void of quality nutrients and often times leave us feeling bloated, constipated or unfulfilled. Surfing through the holidays doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of foods that we ingest. Take the time to prepare quality lean protein sources, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fat choices. No you don’t have to purchase Organic everything, but real whole foods from a variety of actual food sources will get you far on the nutrient train. Quality Matters.
As you continue through the Holiday Season, remember these few simple steps, your body will thank you.