I grew up spending my summers at my grandparents cabin on the lake, swimming, skiing and fishing. Some of my fondest childhood memories are with them there. My grandad was an avid organic gardener to which I still have his old “how to” books that I cherish. Even back then he believed in eating a mostly plant based diet, some meat and he believed gluten was terrible for you. He drank distilled water and went to the chiropractor regularly and never ever ate fast food. His downfall was my grandmothers coconut cream pie, hahahhahaha. Sugar. I think that is the way it is with most of us, isn’t it? I don’t remember ever a time going over there that she didn’t have something she had baked sitting under her aluminum cake dome on the counter.
I learned to can vegetables with them in that old cabin. One of my very favorite canning jobs was sliding the peeling off of the tomatoes after they had been blanched in hot water. I can still hear the pop of the lid as the air tightened in that glass mason jar. My grandmother, who we called mema, was an incredible cook. She whipped up some of the best southern, country foods you could ever put in your MOUTH in that tiny kitchen of hers. Fried green tomatoes, fresh corn and peas we had just shelled on the porch were some of my favorites. Mema wouldn’t let us go swim for an hour after we had eaten. She said we needed to “let our food settle.” I used to think that was so crazy until I started studying the digestive system and the brain and you know what? It turns out that was some smart advice.
The purpose of our food is to be digested for nutrients and fuel, right? So when we ask our bodies to do something extremely demanding such as exercise, or anything that is stressful like a big presentation for work, or a life event that is stressful, those situations happen in a different physical and mental state than what we need for proper digestion.
The stressful state is called “fight or flight” mode. Did you know that your thought process can actually trigger or impair your stomach acid production, your salivary response, enzyme secretion and digestive hormones that actually break down your food for use? So your digestion doesn’t begin in your mouth, it begins in your brain.
I have been studying a lot about this lately because I cannot seem to get my brain to turn off its fight or flight mode. I am in this state… ALL THE TIME. The consequences of this to my digestive track has been horrific. I”ve experienced bloating, cramping, and all of the lovely symptoms that go along with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I will spare you the details. You are welcome, hahaha.
So here is the thing. We need to be in a rest and digest mode. It is a calm, no stress state. We have to figure out how to allow ourselves a “chill out” period so that the switch can be turned on for rest and digest and out of the “oh crap I am being chased by a bear” state. I have that image in my head, hahahaha. My crazy self, constantly running from a bear. High stepping’ it, LOL. I realized too, that this is the reason I get the shakes so often. Adrenaline kicks in over the DUMBEST things. grrrr… Anyway…
Here are a few tips that can help:
- Sit down to eat. This is something that our fast paced lifestyle these days usually does not allow, but you have to find the time. This means, no eating in your car, standing up, on the go. Sit down, look at your food, say a prayer of thanks for it, take a deep breath and take the time to actually chew your food. Your salivary glands are a huge part of the digestive process too. And if you don’t chew your foods correctly they can actually do damage to the lining of your gut wall causing inflammation and all sorts of other issues.
- When anxiety arises, take a second to pray and take a deep breath, preferably inhaling an essential oil. A blend of Bergmot and Ylang Ylang, Valor, or Believe, those are a few of my favorites for supporting the emotions. If you don’t have essential oils yet check out this post and grab some. I would love to support you on your journey.
- Let your body rest after eating. Don’t immediately exercise or go into a stressful meeting. Work your meals around these activities so that your body can do its best to break down the foods you are eating.
So let’s all learn to calm the freak down before we eat, ok? Easier said than done for many of us, I know. But if you are serious about fixing your system, having a healthy immune system, losing weight and finding energy again, you gotta do whatcha gotta do!
Action Step: Each time to you sit down to eat, look at your plate, take a deep breath and give thanks for it. Chew your bite at least 25 times before swallowing it. Release those enzymes my peeps! You’ve got this.