Distracted Eating Can Spell Trouble for Digestion

A recent study studied the effects of eating while distracted. People were sitting and playing games on their computers while eating a meal. The results of this study were revealing. It was found that the participants ate more and didn’t have a memory of what they had just eaten. The article on this study can be found here.  While sitting in front of a computer, these people were served various items and many reported  feeling less full after they’d finished eating. In addition, they had a hard time remembering the order in which they ate the items.

When you eat in a relaxed manner,  your body moves into parasympathetic mode. Digestion takes place in parasympathetic, or relaxed mode,  and ceases in sympathetic mode, or stress mode.  If you were to eat while driving or while doing another potentially stressful activity, your body will not digest the food properly.  When your body is in sympathetic, or fight or flight mode, blood and energy goes to your extremities rather than your digestive system.  Your body is focused on keeping you alive, rather than on digesting food.

Pay attention to your body while you eat. There are important signals and feedback that you could miss if you eat while distracted, such as while watching television.  Your body will send signals when you are full. If you miss this, you can easily overeat, stressing your system, ingesting more calories than you need and disabling this warning system in the future.  Also, you may not chew your food as thoroughly or you may eat faster than normally. All of these scenarios will lead to impaired digestion.

Here are our top five tips for better digestion:

1. Eat slowly
2. Chew your food thoroughly
3. Enjoy your meals in a relaxed state
4. Choose a distraction-free setting and focus on your meal
5. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending

Sometimes, there are further digestive issues that need to be addressed. If you suffer from the symptoms of heartburn, bloating or excess fullness after meals, belching or lower gas, some additional support would most likely be helpful. Remember, we are not only what we eat, but what we are able to digest. You can be eating the most perfect diet, and if it’s not getting properly broken down and assimilated by the body, then it won’t nourish you and can in fact cause harm.