I have always wanted to sit down and enjoy a family dinner. You know, the kind of meal where everyone is peacefully eating their meal while talking quietly and politely at the table.
In fact, I even went through a stretch before the girls were born, where we all at the dining room table and ate family style. I have tried serving a buffet-style meal and seeing if that changed the energy. Let me tell you... Both strategies went as planned probably a total of 3 times! Guess what ended up happening? Most of the time I inhaled my food because I was so busy serving others. Or, I was so stressed by trying to get the kids to eat their dinner that I inhaled my dinner without any consciousness of what I was doing. Both situations are digestive stress.
Fast forward to when the girls were born and I was eating on the couch while nursing or trying to feed the boys while feeding myself, again digestive stress. Why, because I was eating fast, not chewing, and often in a stressed state.
Before I really started working on my protocol through Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, I was aware of my poor mealtime strategy for myself but unsure how to change it given my responsibilities. I was aware that every meal I ate was either someone else’s leftovers, standing at the counter preparing food for someone else, or mindlessly nibbling whatever I was preparing for someone else. Again, every meal was eaten in a rushed, stressed state that caused digestive stress. The only meals I ate properly were the ones that were outside of the home when I was in the car by myself either going to work or at work.
My food was always nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and balanced, but after meals, mainly lunch and dinner, I would get so bloated it felt like I had a watermelon in my belly! I knew something was not right! Now I know the mealtime environment is so important to my long-term success on my healing journey.
My responsibility as head chef to four little people and my husband (for most of his meals 🙂 ) is a role that I accept and know will be present for a good while. But, I can take steps so that role does not crush me and harm my health in the process!
MY MEALTIME STRATEGY
1. Liquid meals. Some meals just require a smoothie. In the mornings, I have to make the kids' breakfasts which are a multi-step process with lots of dishes. You know the drill, packing backpacks and water bottles. All must be done within a time frame for getting ready for school. This requires a smoothie!
Here is my morning smoothie recipe:
I fill my Vitamix canister with mixed greens: beet, chard, borage, lettuce (whatever is growing in the garden)
1 scoop of Origin protein powder
1 scoop of collagen (I rotate brands)
1 tbsp Maca powder
2 tbsp psyllium husk
Ice and Water
2. Take advantage of peaceful moments. As much as I would love to have it, dinner time is not typically a peaceful time. At least not yet! Slow, mindful eating—really being aware of and enjoying my meals is a powerful way to better enjoy my food, improve metabolism, and better digestion. So, when I have the opportunity, I sit and eat during peaceful moments like when the boys are out playing after school. It makes for an early dinner, but that works well for my next strategy.
3. Eat within a compressed eating window. In order for my digestive system to heal, I have to have time when you are not eating. My window ranges from 8 AM to 4 PM or 9 AM to 5 PM. That is what works for my body right now. Stopping eating 3-4 hours before bedtime also helps the body detoxify without having to spend energy digesting food at night.
4. Take digestive enzymes! Based on my gut test results through Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, I learned that I need digestive enzymes to help me use all of the great nutrition in the food that I am eating. Many of us have this problem, but you must test first to be sure you are taking the right ones. For example, I learned that I have H. Pylori which is fed by HCL (a common compound found in digestive enzyme products) so I need to use a product that does not have HCL. THIS IS HUGE! We must focus on digestion!
5. Just stop and breathe. My old habit of eating faster and basically inhaling my food without even chewing when there was a stressful event during a meal is a HUGE NO! This is a fast track to bloating and poor digestion! My new habit any time a stressful event happens during a meal (such as a major screaming event between the girls) is this: It takes about one minute and will lower your stress hormones and help you better metabolize your food. Take 5 breaths in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Slowly count to 5 on each in-breath and again on each out-breath.
As you can see taking care of yourself is a DAILY requirement! Acting proactively and practicing self-care has a cumulative effect! This is also true for the other side of things as not taking care of yourself can leave you digging yourself out of a hole!
If you are searching for answers and want to learn more. Please reach out to me at email@example.com and learn more about how you can maximize your self-care!