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Digestion Woes: The Number One Thing You Can Do to Kick-start Improving Your Digestion Today

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

I’ve had digestion issues since before I can remember. My mom recalls having to put me on bland diets — rice, bananas, toast with no butter — multiple times growing up to get me to stop being sick.

It was always just… the norm. We never really did anything about it. Towards the end of high school I can remember thinking there must be a correlation between my acne, digestive distress, anxiety, and what I was eating, but was told otherwise by my dermatologist. Because I was told what I was putting into my body every day had nothing to do with what was coming out through my skin, I didn’t pursue this thought I had until later.

Sometime down the line in college when I was really starting to cook for myself, I heard dairy could be the cause of digestive distress for some. I took it out of my diet. Things didn’t clear up, but they improved drastically. I stuck with that for a few years.

When my Uncle Bobby fell ill and researched how to boost his immune system through diet, he suggested to take wheat and gluten out of my diet (he was doing the same). I did. Though temporary, within two weeks, my skin and about 95% of my digestive issues cleared up. This lasted a few years.

About three years ago, I went through a bad bought of depression: my Uncle had passed, I had broken up with my then long-term boyfriend I had moved around the country with, I was in a new city without a community, I went off birth control for the first time in 8 years, I found myself in an unhealthy, weird long-distance s/texting relationship. I avoided my problems by traveling away from my current reality until money ran out. Then I had to face myself.

My digestive issues were back and unpredictable.

My parents came to visit that November. We went out to eat at the Reel Fish Inn in Malibu (delicious, by the way). I put a few drops of Malted Vinegar on my potatoes.

We got home. I was keeled over in pain. When I eat gluten, it feels like my stomach is attacking itself. This was that x10. We figured out it was the Malted Vinegar, derived from wheat. That’s when I decided, after 25 years of stomach problems and trying to treat it myself, I needed support. And I needed to get my life back on track.

I started working with an angel in the form of a Naturopathic Doctor out of El Segundo named Dr. Abercrombie. I’m not sure if I ever expressed it to her, but from the moment I stepped into her office, she changed my life for the better.

She gave me a lot of recommendations including walking me through a three month elimination diet and gut healing protocol with various supplements (more on that in a later post), but the very first recommendation she gave me was to sit down while eating.

Yup. That’s right: the one thing you can do to start improving your digestion today is to sit down while eating. Be present, and sit down.

I know, this sounds like crazy talk, right? Seriously. Think about it. How often are you eating your breakfast on your way out the door? Eating bites of lunch in between meetings? Eating a snack while walking to your next destination? We all do it.

The single most important thing you can do for your digestion is to eat your meal while sitting down. Dr. Abercrombie claimed more than a few patients improved their digestion by implementing just this one recommendation. I implemented a few recommendations of hers at the same time, but sitting down to eat instead of rushing through a meal was a huge help.

So, I challenge you to eat as many meals as you can this week, big or small, while sitting down. Yes, even your smoothie. Plan to take the full 10 minutes it takes to eat a meal sitting down. Maybe take it one step further and take a few breaths to relax and prepare your digestive system for the delicious meal you’re about to devour. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  1. Prepare your meal.

  2. Sit down at a table with your meal.

  3. Limit distractions around your meal (ex. no phone, away from computer).

  4. Take 5 deep breaths to relax your digestive system.

  5. Eat your meal by chewing every bite fully before swallowing. (about 20 chews)

  6. When finished, take a few more deep breaths before getting up.

  7. Clean up.

  8. Move on with your day.

All of this will take 10 - 20 minutes, depending on what you are consuming.

And that’s it!

Now this may not be a cure-all, but it’s something you can start doing today.

Simple, right?

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