1. Sit down to eat - every time!
Your digestive tract functions best when your nervous system is in parasympathetic mode - otherwise known as “rest and digest” mode. When you are eating on the run and while doing other things (driving, walking, chasing your kids) your body is tapping into your sympathetic nervous system - otherwise known as the opposing “fight or flight” mode, and this means that your digestive functions are not being paid full attention and able to work as effectively. Whether it’s a smoothie, full meal, or even a handful of almonds, I recommend sitting down and making sure you are relaxed (take a few deep breaths and let your heart and respiration rates come down) before you start to chow down.
2. Incorporate probiotics
Your health care provider may have recommended certain strains and dosages of probiotics to take therapeutically, and if this is the case, that is great. If you aren’t sure if you should be dosing with a therapeutic probiotic - at least start getting more of them from your foods! Incorporating fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha drinks, and pickles (sugar free varieties) are an easy add. If you aren’t sensitive to dairy, yogurt and kefir of course are well known probiotic-containing foods, and if you aren’t soy-sensitive, then miso and tempeh are full of probiotic goodness.
3. Skip the liquids at mealtime
Now don’t get me wrong - I am a huge fan of water and healthy hydration for all of my patients - but just not at the same time that you are eating. When you drink a tall glass of water (or other beverage), this naturally dilutes the digestive juices in your upper digestive tract - and you need these juices to break your food down in order to make nutrients available for proper digestion and absorption. Small sips are okay, but avoid a big glass of liquid at least 30 minutes before and after meals.