Does It Matter How Fast We Eat?

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Does It Matter How Fast We Eat?

Your central nervous system has a few primary states. One is called the sympathetic nervous system. This is when your body is responding to stress. Imagine that you’re being chased by a predator and you need to run fast to save your life. Your body, in its great wisdom, will shut down all functions not immediately required to save your life and push all its resources into giving you the ability to run away.

One of those functions is digestion.

Now, you might not be living the kind of life where you routinely need to run away from a tiger chasing your tail, but you almost certainly experience stress. Too many people who need something from you. Not enough time to finish the task at hand. Constant interruptions. Traffic. Financial pressures. A crying baby. Dirty office politics. Depressing world news.

Whatever specific stress you have, your body interprets the same way. And when you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system response is going to slow down your digestion in order to give you energy to deal with the source of your current stress. It’s a brilliant system, but you have to learn to work with it to maximize your body’s capacity to digest the foods you eat. Otherwise, no matter how healthy the food choices you make are, if you eat when experiencing stress, you’re working against your body’s ability to digest the food you’ve chosen.

The parasympathetic nervous system is operating when you’re relaxed and have time. When you’re in the parasympathetic state, your body has the capacity to process, digest and assimilate the foods you eat, withdrawing the nutrients and allowing them to nourish every cell in your body.

What are some tips that can help you work with your body to maximize your body’s ability to digest?

RULE #1 – Slow Down! If you gulp down your food when you’re in the middle of a stress response, it will sit like lead in your belly. Picture yourself at your desk working against a deadline, one hand on the computer keyboard and one hand holding a tuna sandwich that you’re in the process of inhaling. Yeah. Don’t do that.

RULE #2 – Stop periodically when you’re eating and take deep breaths. Digestion is a kind of fire, and fire needs oxygen. Give your body the oxygen it needs to efficiently digest your food by taking deep breaths periodically during your meal.

RULE #3 – Sit up when you eat. It’s fascinating to see how many people eat hunched over their food. Sitting up will automatically slow you down, because you can’t shovel the food in quite as fast. Next time you’re with people eating together, notice how quickly (and seemingly mindlessly) some people eat while bent over their food.

Keep making healthy food choices while your gastric balloon is implanted. And try these tips to increase your body’s ability to better digest the smaller amounts of food you are eating.

 

Author: Rebeca Espinoza

Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon.  You can find her on Google+ or at rebeca@spatzmedical.com. Like the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon page on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest for healthy eating tips, inspiring quotes, videos and photos and more.

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