Tips for improving digestion

Andrea Morley

For drivers, busy office workers, mechanics, and anyone that has a hectic schedule, it can be tempting to eat on the go, eat too quickly, or just eat whatever food is available at the time. This can lead to a lot of gas, bloating, stomach discomfort, slow (or too quick) digestion, and more. That doesn’t need to be the case, because there are many ways we can improve our digestion.

I completely understand that articles like this can be overwhelming, making it seem like there are far too many things to think about surrounding eating. That’s not true, though, and I want you to remember that you can keep it simple and still experience better digestion.

As you read through the list, think about which points you could benefit from the most (or which points you’re currently doing the opposite of) and implement 1-3 of them:

Sit down and relax to eat: Take a couple breaths and get rid of the distractions. If you’re stressed or busy, your body can’t put enough energy towards digestion. Rest lets you digest!

Don’t chug water (or other drinks) while eating: This dilutes your stomach acid and enzymes, which you want to keep strong for better digestion. Take sips of water or warm tea instead.

Chew thoroughly: The more work your teeth do, the less work your stomach and the rest of your gut have to do. Try and stay consistent with this until it becomes a habit.

Eat slowly: Eating too quickly causes you to swallow air, and you all know the belly ache that comes after shoveling back your plate. You’ll enjoy your food more and likely eat less as well.

Don’t eat a full meal right before or after an intense workout: Exercise is a form of stress, and we already discussed how the body can’t properly focus on digestion when stressed. Keep your meals about half an hour away from your intense workouts.

However, walking is allowed: A walk before or after a meal can improve digestion by encouraging peristalsis, the muscular action that moves food down through your GI tract.

Eat fewer foods at each meal: Instead of loading up on a buffet’s worth of different items, stick to three or four different foods, especially if you find yourself bloated after most meals.

After eating, sip a warm herbal tea that aids in digestion: Ginger, fennel, and peppermint tea are all great for soothing the tummy and aiding digestion.

Want to step things up a notch? Digestive enzymes are a powerful way to boost your supply of the enzymes needed to break down food. Take one capsule with meals.

If you’ve been dealing with digestion issues, focus on easy-to-digest foods such as smoothies, soups, cooked fruits and vegetables, and soups can help, as opposed to eating plenty of raw produce/salads, tough meat, seeds, and nuts.

Great digestion isn’t always easy if you’re eating on the road or when you’re busy, but creating better habits around when, what, and how you eat will make a large difference in how you feel. Try a couple of the tips mentioned above to see how much better you can feel after eating.

Andrea Morley

Andrea Morley is the lead nutritionist and health coach at Healthy Trucker (a division of NAL Insurance), where she educates and motivates drivers and office staff across the industry to improve their health through simple, consistent changes in their diet and exercise routines. She has a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Guelph, and is passionate about wellness and helping others reach their goals. She can be contacted at amorley@healthytrucker.com

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