Have you ever heard someone say, “Every time I eat this or that it makes me gain weight?” Well, there is truth to thinking something will make you gain weight and actually gain weight. The way we think about food and the way we feel about food impacts our ability to digest and utilize every macro and micronutrient.
Your brain is the first step in the digestion process. Yes, your brain, not your mouth. When we begin to think about food and anticipate eating something, the image of that food, say a candy bar, is registered in the cerebral cortex of the brain. The information about this yummy chocolate bar is then relayed electro-chemically to your limbic system. Your limbic system supports key physiological functions such as hunger, sex drive, thirst, temperature and more. The brain then takes the emotional input and transfers the information into a physiological response.
By eating anything with a positive mind (in this example chocolate), the happy thoughts make your body respond differently. Instead of thoughts of guilt, when you eat the chocolate with pleasure, your hypothalamus will take this pleasure and send activating signals to your salivary glands and stomach. This creates a physical response that will allow for a better breakdown of the chocolate while using more calories. When you eat with mindfulness, your body is happy to help digest your food for you.
Now let’s say you eat the chocolate with feelings of guilt and deprivation. These negative signals are then sent down as inhibitory responses which means you will be eating the chocolate without an efficient breakdown. The body is stressed, and we know our bodies do not work well when stressed. Think of the people that you know who have stomach problems. Are they a highly stressed or anxious person? Do they have a poor relationship with food?
How do you feel when you eat? When you sit down to eat, do you experience your food with mindfulness? The more you can slow down, smile, and have positive thoughts about your food the more your body will produce the necessary responses you need for full digestion.
1. Before you eat, tell yourself this food is going to nourish my body.
2. Take time to look at your food before you eat it.
3. Take a deep breath and relax before you eat.
4. Smell your food.
5. Chew your food 10-20 times before you swallow.
Challenge: Next time you get hungry, drink a glass of water to clean your palate. Then take a piece of broccoli, banana, apple, or celery or a carrot. Bite it with your eyes closed and with no external noise. Chew the food twenty times. Feel the texture and think about all the nutritional benefits of this piece of food and how it is repairing any damage to your body. Check in with yourself on how this makes you feel. Take 3-5 minutes in silence to eat a whole cup of this food and within a few minutes you may find yourself feeling more satisfied without a hunger response. Our relationship with food is a very important relationship as it is one major fuel for our lives. If you struggle with overeating, cravings, or have a poor relationship with food checkout the services at Happy Whole You for support. We offer emotional brain health coaching and supporting supplements and resources to help you balance your brain and increase physical health.