1. Eat when hungry
Hunger is a sign of health digestion, listen to your body. If you eat when you are not hungry then you are eating for an emotional filler. Try drinking some water, stretching or going for a brisk walk instead of ‘emotional’ or ‘boredom’ eating habits.
If you do not eat when you are hungry, eg. skipping meals to lose weight, then your metabolism will start to slow and no longer burn calories efficiently. The chances of permanent weight loss with this method are next to zero.
So, eat meals on a regular basis! Five smaller meals are better than 2 or 3 larger meals as it will keep your blood sugar constant and help to prevent cravings by preventing spikes in your appetite.
When you are hungry your body has built up digestive enzymes readying your body for digestion. This means your body is more capable of digesting food when you are hungry. If you tend to eat without listening to whether your body actually is hungry and asking for food, you are more likely to gain weight and suffer from indigestion, bloating and gas.
The Indian yogis say that indigestion is the cause of 90% of diseases. When food is not properly digested nutrients are not fully absorbed from food, leaving the body malnourished, fatigued, and causing poor memory and concentration. Indigestion also leads to weight gain, as poorly digested food will sit in your stomach and intestines and cause bloating. When food is poorly digested in the stomach it is sent, undigested to the intestines, the intestines then attempt to break down the food by secreting intestinal digestive enzymes, these enzymes when released cause gas, this in turn leads to further bloating and pain.
2. Chew properly.
There is an enzyme contained in saliva that aids in protein digestion. If you chew on your food properly, your mouth will secrete more saliva, and the food will start to break down before it hits the stomach and duodenum. It is said by many traditional cultures and modern day nutritionists that 30 chews a mouthful is adequate. Take a short brisk walk after dinner to aid digestion.
Eat pickles, radish or ginger with meals to increase digestive enzymes.
Swedish bitters, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with hot water 30 minutes before meals, also increases your digestive capabilities, and is good for people who suffer from indigestion and bloating.
Try not to drink liquid with meals as fluids wash away digestive enzymes, cold drinks especially, as they cool down the ‘digestive fire’ in the gut.
3. Avoid foods that are difficult to digest
.... such as dairy, soy milk, sugar and refined wheat products. Ice cream, cheese and cream are extremely taxing on the digestive system. You can supplement your calcium intake with salmon, sardines, collard greens, spinach, okra, rhubarb, white beans, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, sesame seeds, bok choy, almonds and by adding lightly fried sesame seeds with salt on your meals, or sesame paste – tahini, which is great used as a dressing.
4. Avoid cold foods and drinks
Try not to eat or drink foods and liquid that are cold in temperature, again, as they cool down the ‘digestive fire’.
Eg.ice (except small amounts in summer)
cold drinks from the fridge.
Ice cream or icy poles
Food from the fridge that hasn’t been left to sit to warm up to room temperature or heated before consuming.
When the digestive fire has been dampened by these types of foods these types of symptoms will occur:
Mucous build up
And immune problems
5. Don't Eat Too Late
Make a habit of not eating after 8pm, or 3 hours before retiring. The digestive system is at its peak from 7am until 11am, then starts to decrease to its weakest from 7pm until 11pm in the evening. To take advantage of the peak digestive strength the largest meal of the day should be breakfast, finishing with a light snack at dinner. Eating late at night means that food will sit in your digestive system for longer, undigested, and much of the energy for night time restoration of hormone production, balancing your brain chemistry, building blood, along side a great many other processes, goes to digesting your dinner.
6. Avoid eating when angry, upset, tired, walking, driving, reading or concentrating.
If you eat at these times you will likely suffer from weight gain and bloating due to poor digestive capabilities at these times. You may also suffer from poor concentration and poor memory, as the nutrients from your food will most likely not be readily absorbed. The digestive system slows when the heart rate increases, however when the heart rate slows and the body switches from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, the mind and body are calm and the digestive system becomes strong, and more digestive enzymes are secreted. Calming the mind and body before eating is essential for good digestion.