Did you know that your gut health plays a huge role in your mental health? Study after study is showing a proven connection between digestive health and stress levels. This connection goes both ways. Do you know the feeling you get in your gut when you are stressed, excited, or nervous? The GI tract is sensitive to emotion and to thoughts. Even the mere thought of eating can send signals to start releasing digestive juices. Well, this connection works BOTH ways. Yes, your tummy discomfort can be both the cause of OR the product of stress.
The good news is that when you take care to address both your stress levels as well as your gut health, it can have a compounding positive effect. Gut health is one of the most powerful, but often ignored, strategies in stress reduction. Incorporating some simple diet and habit changes can increase the health of your gut.
Here are some ideas for getting started:
Slow down your eating!
Have you ever noticed how quickly you eat a meal? Time yourself next time and you may be surprised that your food is gone within minutes. Slowing down will help your digestive system do its job better. Plus, it’ll help you to notice when you are getting full, and you’ll also swallow less air (which cuts back on gas).
Don’t eat before bedtime
Stop eating a couple hours (at least) before bed. For many people, the GI system is most active during the day. Use this to your advantage and eat your biggest meal when the metabolic fire is stoked, typically around midday.
Do deep breathing exercises. Practice your favorite breathing technique for a couple of minutes before each meal. Think about breathing down deep into your belly!
Working out helps your body move food through your digestive tract!
Put down your phone and turn off the television. When you eat, just EAT! For a lot of us, this will be super challenging. Take this time to chew thoroughly, savor your food, and tune into your body’s signals.
Try incorporating as many of these steps as possible into your routine and see how much better you feel! After all, how you are being when you eat is just as important, if not more important than what you eat.
-Carolyn Jones, BS, CHC, CLC
Coaching with Carolyn