If you’ve got a sensitive gut, slowing down and trying mindful eating can be an important step to easing stress, having healthier digestion, and an easier time going to the bathroom. If it’s losing weight that interests you as well, eating mindfully can also help you shed stubborn pounds.
Mindful Gut Tactics
When you choose to follow the low-FODMAP diet to ease symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a change in your diet isn’t the only approach you can take to feeling better. Before we dive into mindful eating, try these tactics for success with the diet and success in improving your overall gut health:
- Mindful Eating – read more below
- Mindful foods over processed or packaged foods – whole foods will give your body and your gut the nutrition and energy it needs to function properly, making you healthier, less irritable, happier and more productive!
- Mindful exercise – light exercise can help to calm the body, improve digestion, blood flow and flexibility. “The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” says Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”
- Mindful meditation –according to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, practicing mindfulness meditation over an 8-week period reduced the severity of IBS symptoms in women. If you’re just starting out, try guided meditation (scroll to the bottom of this post here for links to free guided meditation and apps).
- Mindful stress relief – stress relief can come in many forms and you owe it to yourself to take the time to wind down. Here are some ideas for stress relief: watch a funny movie, go for a walk, make a delicious low-FODMAP meal, sit in an epsom salt bath, go to a museum or art gallery, sit by the beach, go to a spin class, turn on the music and clean the house, meet up with friends, enjoy a low-FODMAP serving of chocolate, walk your dog, write in your journal, plan a mini-vacation, draw/paint/write, work in your garden or yard.
Mindful Eating for IBS
As mentioned in Harvard Health Publications, mindful eating is “based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. In other areas, mindfulness techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties.”
Below, Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and author of Eating Mindfully (New Harbinger, 2012) details her 5S system, which is not only free but also portable.
“You can use these skills everywhere, whether you’re at a party, restaurant or office function,” she says.
1. Sit down.
Research shows people eat more when standing, which is why you should sit at a table. (And, no, a couch doesn’t cut it.) The table will help you pay greater attention to your food.
2. Slowly chew.
The longer you take to chew, the more you’ll taste and enjoy food. Besides, you’ll naturally slow your eating. Another way to quell quick eating? Eat with your non-dominant hand, which research shows will slow you by about 30 percent.
As you eat, notice the texture, taste and smell of your food, something most people don’t do. By doing this, you’ll make wiser decisions about whether to keep eating.
4. Simplify the environment.
Research from the Cornell University Food & Brand Lab shows that creating a more mindful environment can help you eat less. For instance, because people tend to eat more in cluttered kitchens, keep your eating space clean. You’re also more likely to make healthier choices if good-for-you foods are visible, so place only healthy foods on kitchen counters and store produce at eye level in the fridge.
5. Smile between bites.
“That smile creates a gap moment, during which you can decide if you want to eat more,” Albers says.
Have you tried any of the tactics above? Share in the comments!
- How to Become a More Mindful Eater by: Lisa Truesdale, Delicious Living
- The exercise effect By Kirsten Weir American Psychological Association December 2011, Vol 42, No. 11
- Research: Mindfulness Meditation for IBS About Meditation
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Be good to yourself and your gut!