We often hear "you are what you eat." But in truth, you are what you digest and absorb. If your digestion is impaired you'll miss out on important nutrients from your food.
Use the following guidelines to ensure proper digestion so you can get the most from your food and feel well after eating.
1. Eat only when you are hungry -- hunger (sensation in your stomach) is a sign that your previous meal has completely digested. It is ideal to wait until this occurs before eating again to avoid adding new food to your stomach when digestion is still in progress.
2. Only eat, when eating -- this means focus on your food and avoid multitasking while eating. That's right: TV, tablets, books, and smartphones away. Mindfulness increases your connection with the food you're eating allowing for deeper satisfaction after your meal and less digestive upset.
3. Chew your food thoroughly -- ideally chewing 25 times before you swallow. Try this at your next meal. You'll notice that your food becomes a finely ground paste after this amount of chewing, which is ideal for digestion. Remember, your stomach doesn't have teeth!
4. Eat slowly -- when you eat at a moderate pace you're less likely to swallow air (which leads to bloating) and you're more attentive to cues from your body, so you'll know when you're full.
5. Eat warm meals -- a specific temperature (and pH) is required in order for digestive enzymes to activate and break down food properly. Eating warm meals (not too hot or cold) ensures the temperature in your stomach remains around 37 C.
6. Avoid ice water -- the worst thing for you at a restaurant (well, almost) is the tall glass of ice water you're served before your meal arrives. Ice water halts digestion, and drinking (too much) with meals dilutes the enzymes that break down your food. Drink only a small amount of room temperature (or warm) fluid with meals.
7. Avoid fruit after meals -- according to proper food combining, fruit should be eaten alone. If you eat fruit after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay too long in your stomach and will begin to ferment (leading to indigestion).
8. Pay attention to proper food combinations -- different foods require different enzymes (and processing times) in the stomach. For optimal digestion, it's best to eat similar foods together.
9. Include all the tastes -- the six tastes of the Ayurvedic diet include: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Experiment with foods, condiments, and spices that cover all six tastes increases satiety after the meal.
10. Include gratitude at meals -- our emotional state significantly affects digestion. Taking a few deep breaths and a moment to express gratitude before eating will promote a positive and calm state, which is ideal for digestion.
Which of these tips are new for you? Did anything on the list surprise you? Share in the comments below.