If you’ve got a sensitive gut, slowing down and trying mindful eating can be an important step to easing stress, having healthier digestion, and an easier time going to the bathroom. If it’s losing weight that interests you as well, eating mindfully can also help you shed stubborn pounds.
Mindful Gut Tactics
When you choose to follow the low-FODMAP diet to ease symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a change in your diet isn’t the only approach you can take to feeling better. Before we dive into mindful eating, try these tactics for success with the diet and success in improving your overall gut health:
- Mindful Eating – read more below
- Mindful foods over processed or packaged foods – whole foods will give your body and your gut the nutrition and energy it needs to function properly, making you healthier, less irritable, happier and more productive!
- Mindful exercise – light exercise can help to calm the body, improve digestion, blood flow and flexibility. “The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” says Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”
- Mindful meditation –according to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, practicing mindfulness meditation over an 8-week period reduced the severity of IBS symptoms in women. If you’re just starting out, try guided meditation (scroll to the bottom of this post here for links to free guided meditation and apps).
- Mindful stress relief – stress relief can come in many forms and you owe it to yourself to take the time to wind down. Here are some ideas for stress relief: watch a funny movie, go for a walk, make a delicious low-FODMAP meal, sit in an epsom salt bath, go to a museum or art gallery, sit by the beach, go to a spin class, turn on the music and clean the house, meet up with friends, enjoy a low-FODMAP serving of chocolate, walk your dog, write in your journal, plan a mini-vacation, draw/paint/write, work in your garden or yard.
Mindful Eating for IBS
As mentioned in Harvard Health Publications, mindful eating is “based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment. In other areas, mindfulness techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties.”
Below, Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio
“You can use these skills everywhere, whether you’re at a party, restaurant or office function,” she says.
1. Sit down.
Research shows people eat more when standing, which is why you should sit at a table. (And, no, a couch doesn’t cut it.) The table will help you pay greater attention to your food.
2. Slowly chew.
The longer you take to chew, the more you’ll taste and enjoy food. Besides, you’ll naturally slow your eating. Another way to quell quick eating? Eat with your non-dominant hand, which research shows will slow you by about 30 percent.
As you eat, notice the texture, taste and smell of your food, something most people don’t do. By doing this, you’ll make wiser decisions about whether to keep eating.
4. Simplify the environment.
Research from the Cornell University Food & Brand Lab shows that creating a more mindful environment can help you eat less. For instance, because people tend to eat more in cluttered kitchens, keep your eating space clean. You’re also more likely to make healthier choices if good-for-you foods are visible, so place only healthy foods on kitchen counters and store produce at eye level in the fridge.
5. Smile between bites.
“That smile creates a gap moment, during which you can decide if you want to eat more,” Albers says.
STRESS EATING Guide
It’s no longer just the high calorie foods that could be contributing to people’s weight gain, it could be stress itself that is throwing off our metabolism and causing those unnecessary pounds. In new study from The Ohio State University (OSU), researchers found that women who experienced stress in the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women in the time after eating a high-fat meal— which adds up to the equivalent of 11 pounds gained annually.
According to Dr. Perlman:
- Everyone knows that we tend to reach for junk food to comfort ourselves when we feel stressed. Here’s another reason not to do that.
- Not only is the food not healthy for you, but the stress affects your body in such a away that you burn less calories when you are stressed.
- In essence, eating unhealthfully when stressed is a double whammy when it comes to weight gain.
- As an alternative to eating, try relieving your stress by going to the gym or taking a walk to help ease your mind.
Dr. Perlman is a doctor for the stress reducing app meQuilibrium, he completed a residency in Preventive Medicine and is a recognized leader in the field of Integrative Medicine and respected researcher and educator in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and wellness.
According to Me and the rest of the Digestive Disorder Community
Studies have shown that stress and anxiety tend to co-exist with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In a WebMD article, Edward Blanchard, PhD, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany said the “most common mental ailment suffered by people with IBS is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).” I know that when I am stressed my IBS gets worse – and I am sure if you get IBS and are reading this you can relate. So if you do not want to gain extra pounds or experience additional pain and suffering from IBS, what can you do? MEDITATE. According to a study published inThe American Journal of Gastroenterology, practicing mindfulness meditation over an 8-week period reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in women.
Here are some of my tips for peaceful MEDITATION:
- Sit yourself in a quiet place where you will be free of interruption.
- Inhale a nice long deep breath, and then exhale nice and slow. Do this three times.
- Next, keep this slow and controlled breathing going and start to relax from the top of your head all the way down to your toes. Relax every single muscle. Be aware if the muscles in your face, neck, and chest are tense -release the tenseness.
- Be aware of any pain you feel in your gut – send peace to the areas of your body that are giving you pain. Peace could be visualizing sending flowers or a soft yellow light to your gut, or imagining no distention, bloating or inflammation. Surround your gut with lightness and softness.
- Now imagine how you want the rest of your day to unfold, pain-free, symptom-free and positively charged.
- Imagine taking care of yourself, drinking enough water, getting in exercise, taking your supplements, getting to bed early.
- Imagine taking care of your mind – no negative talk, only positive affirmations, and a positive outlook on your body, your feelings, and your life.
- Think about five things or people you are grateful for – think about the feelings these people or things bring into your life. Ask the universe (or your god – whatever or whomever you believe in) to bring you these wonderful experiences and feelings over and over again. Say why you are grateful for each of the five things.
- Once you are done practicing gratefulness, think about three things you will do today to feel good.
- Now count slowly to the number thirty and gently open your eyes and smile.
* Try and meditate for at least 20 minutes per day. You can set an alarm on your phone (choose a soft ring) to alert you once twenty minutes is up. Stay tuned for the video version of this meditation.
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