Did your mother tell you "Don't swim until 30 minutes after eating." Does that "rule" seem silly? Is it an old wives tale? Maybe not! It makes sense when you understand how digestion works.
The body is always in one of two states: parasympathetic or sympathetic. The parasympathetic is the state of calm and rest. The sympathetic is the state of stress, also known as "fight or flight". Digestion only occurs in the parasympathetic state.
Think about it, if you are eating your lunch and a pack of tigers comes, your body will prioritize running away as fast as possible (sympathetic state). It will forget about digesting your lunch (parasympathetic state). This example may seem extreme, but in today’s fast paced world, your body confuses everyday stresses with the same response as it would if you were being chased by a pack of tigers.
Furthermore, it's not just physical stress that causes your body to go into the sympathetic state. Any stress, including mental or emotional stress, can trigger the sympathetic response.
Think about your typical meal times.
- Do you eat breakfast while fighting traffic to get to work?
- Is lunch spent at your desk while working or quickly doing other tasks in that brief window of time?
- Do you eat dinner while watching TV or on your phone?
All of these activities could signal your body that you are in a stressed state. You are not focused on the task at hand – eating. When this happens, your body will prioritize dealing with stress, at all costs, over digestion. If you aren't digesting your food well, some symptoms you might experience are diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating.
Although this week’s challenge sounds simple it may be difficult until we train ourselves to do it.
Your challenge this week:
During meal times – Eat Without Distractions. Make eating the one and only “task” at hand.
Think about what you are eating and how it tastes. Take time to chew your food and enjoy it. If you do this, I have no doubt you will not only enjoy your food more but also feel better after eating it.
We'd like to hear how this challenge goes for you. Let us know on our facebook page!