Are you eating whole foods, plants, and clean food, and still feeling bloated? You must be super confused and frustrated about your sucky digestion as you are trying to be insanely perfect about what you eat… I totally, totally understand you.
I suffered from digestive issues for YEARS. I ate 100% raw, organic, perfectly balanced meals, oil free, with absolutely 0 junk food! And it was still happening – the pregnancy belly. Ugh it was so insanely frustrating to me.
By the way, if you’d like some love, support, and great health tips on similar topics, join the free Facebook group Raw Souls here.
Your diet is SUPER important when it comes to digestion, but if you are already eating pretty well and still suffering, let me tell you why (most likely that is, of course you should always check these things with your doc just in case!)
Eating when you are stressed, or being chronically stressed, makes you gain weight like crazy.
Let me break it down for you in super simple scientific terms. I loved learning this because it totally solved a huge puzzle for me.
The body’s reaction to stress: When you’re stressed, your cortisol shoots up. Then insulin, which controls fat storage, is messed up too. Your brain thinks, “I need to run away from a lion right now. I must save up some energy in my storage units as fat for this purpose”.
Your sympathetic nervous system, that’s the flight or fight response, is activated. Your blood flows directly to the brain and arms and legs, so that you could RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Notice it flows AWAY from your belly and core.
What is stress to the body: Whether you are actually sprinting from a beast, or stressing about your mortgage, it’s ALL THE SAME TO THE BODY. Even if you are about to eat junk food, and you talk down to yourself in your head, this can cause stress as well. Over-exercising causes stress too, in exactly the same way.
So you end up gaining weight in the long run.
Your digestion slows down, you can get bloated, constipated, or have diarrhea – which can actually lead to malnutrition.
Because your body is not in the business of digesting right now. It’s in the business of the ASAP matters, which means running away from that giant lion…
So what else happens, besides gaining that “I’m minimum 5 months pregnant” belly?
Your immune system shuts off, and your good gut bacteria is depleted. Nutrients are actually excreted through your urine, especially water soluble vitamins (calcium, for example), and you may become sensitive to certain foods. You may get heart burn and acid reflex.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, triglycerides and even cholesterol – all go up!
Stomach acid (critical for absorbing protein) can be impaired, and the lining of the stomach can become inflamed, which can cause the villi and microvilli in the small intestines to get destroyed, causing nutrients not to be absorbed. You get malnourished!
So basically, imagine this:
You are sitting down for a gorgeous salad – seriously perfect in terms of nutrition and flavor.
At this very moment, while you have a giant smile on as you face that salad you’re about to devour, you get a phone call, and it’s your kid’s school. She is in deep trouble… you need to be there in 30 minutes, and you are probably going to be stuck there for a long, long time, because her teacher really likes to blab, especially when she can blame a parent for something a little trouble-maker did.
So you munch down on that salad like there’s no tomorrow. #1 – you definitely won’t have time to each later, and #2 – you only have 30 minutes to finish that salad.
Even if you eat the most nutrient-rich meal in the world, if you are eating it stressed, or if you are under chronic stress, it’s just the same as having a giant plate of junk food. Your body will react to that healthy meal in the same way.
How do I CALM DOWN?
What we need in this situation is our parasympathetic nervous system – the one that brings the blood back to the core.
I know that chilling out is hard, but here are my top tips:
- Take 5 deep breaths before every meal. Very, very deep. 4 counts in, 4 counts hold the breath, 4 counts out, times 5. It will instantly bring you a sense of calm.
- Never eat when you are stressed. It’s better to eat 30 minutes later, rather than eat quickly when you are rushing to work, for example.
- Include practices to calm down chronic stress – the kind that is constantly there, no matter what. The biggest thing to do is to make this a PRIORITY in your life. Just like feeding your dog, or child… You would never NOT do it right? Well, focus on why stress is so harmful to your body, and try to treat removing it as super important.
- You can write, color, draw, go for a walk, meditate, do some yoga, run – try a variety of practices to see what the best way is to get rid of that stress!
The Anti-Stressor Recipe
- Yoga 1 serving of 30 minutes, either power yoga or restorative, according to personality type
- Running 1 serving of 30 minutes, to clear the mind
- Breathing 1 serving of just the prep time of 5 minutes, for at least 5 deep breaths
- Guided meditation 1 serving of 30 minutes, especially before bed
- A very hot bath or trip to the sauna 1 serving of 30 minutes of relaxation + epsom salt
For the perfectionist types
- Include 30 minutes of the restorative, or slow-moving and relaxing elements
For the already relaxed types
- Include 30 minutes of more vigorous movement to reawaken the mind and spirit
- Dedicate at least a minimum of 10 minutes to one of these ingredients daily!