The Psychology of Eating post inspired me to ask if any of you have noticed your digestion improved (or impaired) by your state of mind.
I grew up with a pretty bad relationship to food. I not only ate lots of crap but family meals were stressful events. I ate really fast growing up and still eat very quickly now. And, I was fat as a kid and didn't start to exercise until I went to college. So, body image, relationship to food and health were things that I spent a lot of time figuring out as an adult.
I'm interested to know if any of you have had the experience of slowing down and eating mindfully lead to improved digestion. Or, do you notice poor digestion when you're eating while stressed?
Yes, very much so. Having suffered a combination of ulcers, GERD, and IBS for several years of my life - there was definitely a relationship between my mental state and my physical state throughout those struggles.
Actually, the biggest savior I found from the constant pain, the hours spent in the bathroom, the classes and work days missed due to being too sick to leave the house - was learning how to meditate and breathe. The last year or two of dealing with all of those problems, I could pretty much sit down and make myself feel better inside of half an hour. And, without any other major changes, the issues slowly dissolved. I think the root of a lot of the digestive problems I had was actually anxiety related; it's amazing how much power our mental state has!
Current day: I notice a little bit better digestion if I take the time to sit down outside and eat slow and intentionally - but it isn't drastic. For the most part, I feel well enough these days that eating in a hurry, eating while working, etc - doesn't really upset my stomach as it used to when my system was weak.
Absolutely! When I experience distress, my digestion suffers tremendously. I will often end up with diarrhea for at least a week, even with a relatively short stressful event.
When I was in a bad romantic relationship, I lost 20 pounds in a month because of it, though what I ate didn't change. How I eat doesn't affect it at all.
Yes, but mine have always been cumulative. Prolonged stress will throw me into an irritable bowel pattern that becomes hard to reverse.
I can't speak to the mindful eating thing, because I am the slowest eater on the planet and always have been. My 2 1/2 year old daughter is also, so there is obviously some hard wiring involved. There's no doubt that digestion begins in the mouth and it's important to give our food a good go in there, but I wouldn't obsess on that too much unless it's something to try to alleviate some issues. I say this because I think there's no one right way to eat your food and changing that will be enormously difficult. Which isn't to say you shouldn't try, but it is akin to changing something deeply intuitive about yourself.
In the meantime, you could make sure you're not drinking calories or having smoothies, which completely bypass the mouth's role in digestion. Also, try not to drink too much water with meals, thereby diluting all the enzymes and acids that are necessary.
Something else to look at might be the possibility of low stomach acid. I've seen Chris Kresser and Nora Gedgaudas both talk about this.
It's a great question.
Having said that, upon reflection, my answer has to be no, I don't notice a difference. That doesn't mean there aren't differences, only that if there are, I am not sensitive to them.
I think the answer may well be different for people who are on this site in the first place because they have digestive issues. That's not me. Other than my bout with norovirus a couple of years ago, I've always had a cast-iron stomach. Don't hate me for this, I have other health issues you wouldn't want to trade me for.
I do find that the experience of slowing down and eating mindfully is valuable in many other ways, and contributes to my well-being, physical, mental, and spiritual, in many other ways (e.g. weight management is easier). Digestive benefits may therefore be indirect.
Absolutely! I am in college and I had finals last week. Despite getting enough sleep (for the most part) and exercising, by the end of finals my digestion was WAY off. I was getting stomachaches no matter what I was eating or how slowly I would eat. I found going at least 14-16 hours between dinner and breakfast/lunch the next morning helped a lot because then at least the discomfort was reduced to a smaller time window.
Now that I'm done, I'm making actively de-stressing a big priority: I've been going for swims and then to the hot tub, reading, and spending time with family when I'm not in class or working and that has helped a lot.
Stress definitely affects my digestion and I have found mindful eating practices to be beneficial.