Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach before making a big decision? When you’re stressed do you feel like a bottomless pit when it comes to snack foods? This is because the gut and the brain are connected and constantly in communication with one another so what you eat affects how you feel and how you feel affects your food choices and digestion.
The gut is controlled by our central nervous system, but it also has its own network of neurons known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is in control of swallowing, the release of enzymes to break down food and determining if stomach contents are nutrients or waste. When we are stressed, the function of our gut can change drastically and these processes may be altered.
So how do we know if our digestion is affected by stress? Here are some common signs to look out for…
- Feelings of nausea after eating
- Irregularities in bowel movements
- Feelings of indigestion or reflux
- Gas and bloating after meals
Here are some ways to manage stress that will be very helpful to reduce symptoms of indigestion after meals. Try these out and see if these help you relax before sitting down to eat a meal.
Eat your meals in a calm environment
It is all too often that people eat lunch or dinner while they work. Although this seems productive, this can hinder digestion and cause gas, bloating and feelings of uncomfortable fullness after meals. Put your work away, take a few deep breaths and then begin eating.
Go on a walk after dinner to improve digestion
This suggestion is not new to a lot of us. Getting up and moving after dinner is a great way to stimulate metabolism and get in some extra steps before bedtime. If you feel overly full and lethargic after dinner, get outside for a quick 20 minute walk to get things moving along!
Develop time management skills
An important part of stress reduction is self-care and time management skills. If you feel that you are constantly flipping between work, home life and scrambling to get meals together in between, working on time management skills will help you reduce stress and regulate your digestion. Writing out a daily calendar of your tasks and commitments and giving yourself breaks in between for meals is a good place to start.
Try some daily yoga or meditation
Practicing yoga or meditation daily is a great way to calm the body and mind. Most people continue to feel the effects of their practice for hours after and this is a great way to bring a sense of relaxation throughout your entire day. This will result in lower stress levels during meal times. Try a 15 minute morning yoga routine and a 5 minute bedtime meditation class to get you started.
Stop stressing so much about your food choices
If you’ve started to keep an eye on your nutrition choices lately, you know it sometimes can be overwhelming and stressful. The worst thing you can do is stress too much about your food choices to the point that you create stress and anxiety surrounding meal times. Trust yourself and trust the process and try not to spend too much time pondering over your ingredients.
If you would like additional support with managing your stress levels and making healthy choices, reach out to Shulman Health & Weight Loss at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!