- 95% of your serotonin (the happy hormone) is manufactured in your digestive system.
- 80% of your immune system is manufactured in your digestive system.
I used to have awful bloating that left me looking and feeling like I was several months pregnant. I actually had two sizes of pants, one for 3 weeks of the month and a size up for the week before my period when my stomach would bloat so much that I didn't fit into my regular size! Sound familiar?
Yeah, it sucked! But when I started to not just change WHAT I was eating, but HOW I was eating, I really started to notice a huge decrease in the bloating I experienced every month. And really, it wasn't all that hard, I just had to stay consistent!
When we are focusing on strengthening this part of your body, the gateway to your health. You will boost your immune system, lose weight with ease, feel less bloated, uncover hidden food allergies, and, most of all, digest with ease, which means looking and feeling fabulous!
You will feel amazing, plus strip years off of how you look and feel. I promise, and I know this to be true because it happened for me.
Here are 7 of the simple things that I changed to reduce my bloating that actually worked! (And in case you're curious, no I didn't do all 7 of these at once. I started with one or two, the ones that I could remember to do or commit to and as they became a stable habit for me I was able to add in another one).
1. Slow Down
We are all rushing. Rushing to eat, to squeeze in an errand, meet a deadline, get to an appointment; rushing. So, let us slow down. Start the process with your eating. Stop and actually sit down when you eat. Your body needs you to be calm to actually digest. If you are nervous, your digestive system is in "fight or flight" mode. It cannot work properly when it is stressed. Digestion is about transforming your food into fuel. When we get stressed, tired, or even nervous, our digestion does not function properly, and certainly not optimally.
It is important to slow down so you can have more energy, or fuel, and also to avoid indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, and gas. Before you eat, try and remember to take a deep breath. Be grateful for the food you are about to eat, and also check in with your own body. Try and focus on being present in the moment and have awareness.
Don't shove the food in your mouth as you are running out the door or eat while standing at the counter as we have all done, myself included, more times than I care to remember. Be mindful. Take the time to pause when life gets busy. You will be amazed at the immediate improvement you will see and feel.
Try this amazing exercise I learned during my time at nutrition school to develop your awareness and start to slow down.
- Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Breathe through your nose, and notice how the air is slightly cooler going in and slightly warmer going out.
- Place one hand over our heart and one hand over your belly.
- Feel your heart beating, and thank your heart for being there for you all day every day, pumping your blood and keeping you alive.
- Feel your belly, noticing the rise on the inhale and the fall on the exhale.
- Thank your belly for digesting all the food you eat.
- Sit silently with your eyes closed, and allow yourself to be with yourself.
- When you feel ready, take a deep inhale and exhale, open your eyes, rise, and move back into your day.
2. Chew, Chew, and Chew Some More
Digestion begins in your mouth. Remember when you were little and your mother would tell you slow down and chew your food so that you would not choke? That always annoyed me as a child, but she was making a great point. When you do not chew your food, it sets the stage for poor digestion. Poor digestion opens the door to let in the unwanted: weight gain, acne, poor sleep, hormonal issues, adrenal fatigue, constipation, acne, IBS, low sex drive, mood swings, and food allergies, to name a few. Serious health issues are not far behind. Most importantly, when you do not digest properly your body cannot transform your food into energy.
I hear this from my new clients all the time. I WANT ENERGY!!!! If you want more energy, then chew your food properly. I suggest 15 chews per bite.
3. Check Out
Yes, you heard me. Put down the phone, blackberry, and iPad. Turn off the TV, sit down, and just enjoy the activity of eating. Give yourself some quiet time so you can de-stress and digest! I know life gets busy.
Why? It is so simple: when the body is stressed, it cannot digest, properly function, or effectively transform food into energy, or perform all of its other jobs and metabolic processes.
Start by taking just one minute out of your day to breathe and think of anything that makes you happy.
4. Get Cultured
Start adding a good, quality probiotic to your daily routine. Incorporating cultured foods and drinks to your life, such as yogurt, miso, dairy or non-dairy kefir, kefir water, kombucha, cultured vegetables, and other cultured foods is a great way to improve digestion and overall health. These foods have been around for centuries.
By adding these foods or another high-quality probiotic to your lifestyle, you will lose weight, assimilate your nutrients better, have clearer skin, better sleep, and decrease your body’s inflammation. The Greek meaning of probiotic is ‘for life’. So, give yourself the gift of a healthy life and get cultured.
5. Clean Out the Junk
Eat simple and eat clean. Our digestive system cannot digest junk. When we eat junk, we end up feeling like junk. Simple, right? I find that people often think that they are eating "clean", but actually, they are eating foods that are wreaking havoc on their body and causing inflammation. Food either gives us inflammation or fuel. I always vote for the fuel!
What is the food on your plate really doing for you?
My job and passion are to help women learn what foods are “right” for their unique bodies. Remember that what worked for you at one point in your life may not be working anymore. Listen to the cues or signals your body is giving you. If you need support, contact me about how I can teach you to find out which foods work for your unique body! Every year and every season my own body changes and I need to update the foods that make me look and feel fabulous!
6. Stay Hydrated
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. I like to add flavor to my water so that I do not become bored. This not only boosts flavour but also enhances digestion if you choose the right additions. My favorites are fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, cranberry concentrate, ginger slices, grapefruit, and fresh mint leaves.
Put on your sneakers (or yoga clothes), because exercise is vital for digestion. Get moving! When you move your body, you move your Qi (the vital energy in your body), and this is key for your digestion. Even if you can only manage 12-15 minutes per day, get your heart pumping, and your digestion will improve. Plus, you will release key endorphins that will make you feel happy and less hungry.
You just learned how to banish belly bloat AND add more energy to your life in 7 simple steps!