Did you know that almost half of your digestion (40%) is activated by pleasure & presence?
It’s called the cephalic phase of digestion and it turns on when you consciously engage with your five senses before you eat.
This critical phase of your digestion remains turned OFF if:
- you gobble down your food without thinking or eat while distracted – like working at your desk, watching TV, driving , etc. (these signal a lack of PRESENCE)
- and/or don’t take the time to enjoy & taste your food, (therefore not engaging your PLEASURE response).
Did you also know that if you’re eating in a stress state (where your sympathetic // fight or flight nervous system is active) that 💯% of your digestion is turned off?
That’s because physiologically-speaking, you’re not worried about eating if you’re getting chased by a bear. And since stress is stress to your body, it doesn’t differentiate between actual life-threatening situations and those that just perpetuate chronic stress – like work, parenting, driving in traffic, emotional stress // trauma, financial concerns, physical injuries, relational conflicts, etc.
This also means that how you THINK about food and/or what emotions you’re experiencing when you eat matters too, as emotions like guilt & shame activate a stress response.
In other words, HOW and WHY you’re eating are *just* as important as WHAT you’re eating. And in some cases, perhaps even more so, as they influence the degree to which your digestion (and accordingly) metabolism is functioning properly & optimally.
- HOW = sitting down to eat, without distraction, engaging in pleasure & presence
- WHY = are you hungry? are you bored? are you eating to fill a hole that’s non-physical? what ARE you feeling when you’re eating? is it “lunch time”? are you stressed? are you eating with presence and ENJOYING your food?
Want to optimize your digestion?
Here are my top tips:
🥦 Take a moment to pause & breath before you eat. GOAL: downshift into your parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest system).
🥦 Express gratitude for the food & visualize all the energy + nourishment you’re absorbing from the food. When with friends, hold your hands over the food & chant “Yuuuummmm” together (same vibration as “om”).
🥦 Chew your food until it becomes water in your mouth (30-50 chews). This can alleviate a good majority of digestive symptoms like bloating & gas. Plus your saliva contains the enzymes needed to maximize nutrient absorption.
🥦 Set your fork down between bites.
🥦 Savor and ENJOY your food. Experience how it tastes. What flavors can you sense? Activate that pleasure response!
🥦 Avoid multitasking & eating or eating while distracted.
🥦 WATER: drink a glass of warm water first thing when you wake up in the morning (bonus points for drinking with lemon or a splash of ACV) before you eat or drink anything else. Shoot for 6-8 glasses of water daily and avoid drinking water WITH meals.
Do you practice these tips? Have you heard any of them before? Tell me below!