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Mindful Eating: Nutritionist’s Top Tips

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The term ‘mindful eating’ has a nice ring to it, but what does it actually mean? Is it just a buzz term or is there actually something to it…

What is mindful eating?

First things first, what is mindful eating? The word ‘mindful’ itself means “to be conscious or aware of something.” Now, you may be thinking, isn’t it hard to not be aware when you’re eating? Obviously, you know you’re eating, but what really differentiates mindful eating is when you are truly conscious and present for the experience.

It’s the opposite of scarfing down a bagel on the walk to work, or accidentally inhaling a bowl of popcorn before you even realize what you’re doing. Bringing consciousness, presence and awareness to your eating can actually help you get the most out of your meals AND supports clear skin.

Mindful eating is an effective, free way to start clearing your skin with holistic nutrition.

My Top Mindful Eating Tips:

1. Breathe to activate parasympathetic nervous system

*Cue Anna Nalick’s “Breathe”*

A few deep breaths before a meal may sound pointless, but it can actually help with your digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. How? Deep breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest functions.

When the body is in a state of ‘fight or flight’, digestive functions like the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes are put on hold to to deal with the perceived threat. This is useful if you’re actually in danger, but if you’re just operating with high stress levels and are in ‘go-go-go’ mode but need to eat your lunch, you’ll want to shift into ‘rest and digest’ mode.

Take around 5 deep and slow breaths before eating to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reignite the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. This will help you properly digest your food, absorb the skin-loving nutrients and even help with elimination. All of which are important for clear, glowing skin!

2. Chew your food thoroughly to activate enzymes

Chewing is more than just breaking our food into a more easily swallowed substance.┬áThere are actually a lot of chemical reactions involved in eating, whether we’re aware of it or not. The salivary glands produce important digestive enzymes that are found in saliva. It’s important to chew thoroughly to bathe your food in these enzymes and effectively begin the digestive process.

A good rule of thumb is to chew 10-20 times before swallowing. Some people say 30, but I like to keep things realistic. This may feel quite uncomfortable the first few times you try it, but trust me, your gut and your skin will thank you for it.

3. Avoid lots of drinks with meals (sip instead)

Current research does not suggest that drinking water with meals causes any significant digestive issues. In fact, drinking water with meals can even support good digestion. However, what I’ve observed to be impactful in my practice is being mindful of the amount of water you’re drinking around meal times.

In both my personal experience and my experience with clients, less bloating is experienced when an effort is made to sip a beverage rather than chugging a bottle of water, for example.

So no, you should never ignore your thirst, but opting for sips of water with your meals may be supportive to your digestion.

4.Don’t eat too quickly

We’ve all had to rush a meal before, it’s no fun! But also, it’s not good for your digestion. Here’s why:

  • When you’re eating really quickly, you’re probably not very relaxed and as outlined above, it’s important for the body to be in a ‘rest and digest’ state when eating.
  • Eating too fast can result in swallowing a lot of air. This can lead to uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.
  • Chewing too quickly and not thoroughly enough means you’ll likely be swallowing larger than ideal pieces of food. Not only does this give the digestive enzymes in your saliva less of a chance to start breaking down the food, but it can make the whole digestive process from there difficult and uncomfortable.

It’s important to actually absorb the nutrients from the food we’re eating, so take your time!

5. Eat veggies and protein first to stabilize blood sugar

Eating your veggies first is a great way to support healthy blood sugar. Vegetables are packed with fibre, which can help stabilize our blood sugar levels vs. reaching for a simple carbohydrate that might spike your levels if eaten on an empty stomach.

Protein is a slow digesting macronutrient that helps you feel satiated. When possible, eating protein as the first or second component of your meal can help prevent blood sugar spikes that are often associated with eating simple carbohydrates on their own.

Blood sugar management is an important component of holistic acne management because of it’s implications with cortisol. When cortisol spikes, sebum (oil) production in the pores increases, making a more ideal environment for acne to form.

Of course, sometimes meals have macronutrients mixed together (like spaghetti with meat sauce, or a chicken salad.) Mixing protein with carbs is also a helpful way to manage blood sugar balance. So don’t stress about this, instead just be aware of keeping a balanced plate! Tip: My go to balanced bowl is my Protein & Greens Bowl!

Mindful eating: The first step

In my opinion, starting your holistic acne clearing journey with these mindful eating tips is one of the best places you can start. It helps you really connect with what you’re eating and also with yourself in terms of your stress levels and habits. Plus, mindful eating will help you get the most out of the skin-loving foods you decide to implement into your diet.

Ready to dive right in? The Acne Protocol is my comprehensive guide that includes mindful eating tips, supplement information, foods to help clear acne, recipes and more!