I had a client text me asking about bloating after her meals. She eats a pretty clean diet due to known food sensitivities; no gluten, no dairy, not much processed food at all, so why the sudden bloating?
While many digestive disruptions can cause bloating after meals, my first thought was stress and the parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic state, aka the “rest & digest” state, is when our nervous system is relaxed and able to focus its energy on healing, digestion, and other “non-emergency” functions. Our digestion does not function optimally when we are under stress. During the sympathetic, aka “fight or flight” state, our bodies prioritize life-saving functions, like breathing and cardiovascular function. Eating while driving, standing up, looking at a screen (big or small), being upset or in a rush are some of the scenarios in which we compromise our digestion. Sound familiar? Here are a few basic tips to help you eat in the parasympathetic state and help your digestion work to the best of its ability:
- take 3 deep, calming breaths prior to taking your first bite
- do a quick body scan, noticing where you might have tension in your body. breathe into it and try to relax your body.
- eat mindfully; look at your food, appreciate it, don’t rush it
- sit at a table to eat
- don’t check email, instagram or facebook while eating…put DOWN the phone!
- chew each bite as thoroughly as you can and remember that your stomach doesn’t have teeth!
- if you notice you are stress eating, try to hit the pause button before reaching for that ____ and ask yourself “is this what my body really needs right now?” you might benefit more from a quick walk, standing in the sunshine or playing a favorite song.
While these tips sound simple I know how busy our days are! I often find myself scarfing down a few bites of breakfast while standing and juggling making lunches and feeding my kids their breakfast. It happens! Try for at least 1 meal a day of focusing on relaxing before and during your meal and see if your bloating, gas or upset stomach improves with this simple (and free!) digestion support!
*Bloating can be symptomatic of so many different digestive imbalances. If you experience acute or chronic bloating and would like to TEST, not guess and find the root cause of your bloating (and other possible digestive imbalances), consider working with me one-on-one. Sign up for a 20-minute complimentary phone consultation to learn more.