Sit down when you eat, relax and don’t inhale your food. Ever wondered why this is what we are told?
ASICS FrontRunner and Dietician Mariella Sawyer talks us through it:
Our bodies are so interesting and clever in everything they do.
We have something called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The former is the nervous system that gets kickstarted when we are in stressful situations. Focus is placed on getting blood to the muscles, sugar to the brain and getting us ready to “fight”. To use an extreme example, if you were being chased by a lion, this nervous system would kick in.
Unfortunately, as a result of today’s way of living, this nervous system
works overtime in us. We are stressed, anxious and always on edge,
leaving us with very little time to focus on eating, and quite frankly
we crave mostly carbohydrates and sugar because that is the food that
makes glucose accessible the quickest for our stressed body.
When the parasympathetic system is activated however, our body calms down and focuses on 'less important' tasks such as digestion, slowing the heart rate and relaxing you (those which may not be required when you outrun a lion). And this is why, when we eat, we need to learn to unwind so that we give our bodies a chance to really digest and absorb what we are eating. Otherwise we are giving our body food but it is in the wrong 'setting' to get the most out of the meal you are about to eat.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Sit down for meals and try to relax (e.g by taking a couple of deep breaths)
- Remove all distractions especially technology (no TV!)
- Breathe in between bites
- Put your cutlery down in between bites
- Pull your ear lobes (this may sound weird but this stimulates your vagus nerve - a very large nerve which plays a major role in digestion) it is also stimulates through relaxation in general because it starts working when the parasympathetic system gets activated
For more insights and recipes from Mariella, click here.