Updated: Mar 30, 2021
By Inder Gharial, CNP, NNCP
When beginning a nutrition plan, having a meal plan is a great way to start but holistically it is not enough to create good eating habits and achieve the goals you have set out for yourself. You could have a terrific meal plan no doubt, but where are you eating your meals, how are you feeling emotionally when you eat, who are you eating with? These factors and so many more play a role in how the digestive system processes and absorbs the food you eat. I am going to share with you some of the most important mindful things to consider when sitting down for a meal.
Choose Nutrient Dense Foods vs. Calorie Dense
Nutrient dense foods mean that the food has a high vitamin and mineral content in relation to its weight. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, organic animal produce, nuts and seeds etc.
Work with a Nutritionist to Determine your Nutritional Needs
Determining which foods may be causing symptoms and work to eliminate those foods for a short period of time to achieve healing this can help to ensure nutrient absorption and good energy.
Have a glass of lemon water 20-miutes before you eat to begin the activation of your digestive cascade, which includes: stomach acid, enzymes, and bile. Even just thinking about eating a lemon can turn on the salivary glands.
Make sure you are not having difficult conversations, sitting at your work desk, driving, rushing or angry when you eat. Being in the stress response sends all the resources to your extremities to initiate the fight/flight stress response to deal with the stress but that can slow down or inhibit digestion. Take 3 deep breaths and say gratitude before you begin eating.
Create an Ambiance
This one is my favorites! Creating an ambiance similar to that of a restaurant or a any type of situation where you feel calm and happy when eating helps to ensure your digestive process works more efficient.
Here are some ideas:
Have a picnic with family or friends
Light some candles
Use your favorite dishes
Set up your plate as you see in restaurants or on television
Put on light music
Eat with people you enjoy being around
Set the table with your favorite tablecloth, linens, napkins, flowers etc.
Serve food in your favorite dishes – you do not only have to do this when someone comes over, you can celebrate and use beautiful things for yourself too!
Some other Quick Tips:
Chew until your food is at a peanut butter consistency before swallowing to liberate surface area so that enzymes can do their work
Notice if a food is causing discomfort
Do not use devices or watch television while you are eating
Pay attention to the cues of hunger and satisfaction
Journal what you have eaten throughout the day to keep yourself accountable
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