Conscious Nutrition: Cultivating More Intent Around Nutrition
By Coach Liam Carmichael
Having a solid foundation of quality movement and basic skills before moving to more complex endeavorers is crucial in exercise – Nutrition is no different. Having a solid base of foundational habits and behaviours around nutrition will not only aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, but it will also set you up for long term success.
Conscious nutrition is a framework we like to use for cultivating more awareness and intent in and around nutrition. So, how can you be more conscious?
1) SLOW DOWN BEFORE EATING
Optimising digestion starts with the brain. If your brain doesn’t know that food is on the way, then how are you expecting the brain to tell your stomach to prepare for digestion? Training hard puts our nervous system into a sympathetic fight or flight mode, in order to bring our body back to homeostasis (rest and digest), we must slow down and relax before eating.
2) SIT DOWN WHILE EATING
One of the best ways to begin the digestive process is to simply sit down and smell your food. You took the time to make it, so why not sit down and enjoy it? As you prepare to eat, first take ten deep belly breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to smell your food. When you do this, you simultaneously accomplish two things: You put your body into a more parasympathetic state simply by breathing, and you also tell your brain food is on the way.
3) CHEW YOUR FOOD THOROUGLY
Forty years ago, sitting down to eat your food in a relaxed fashion was common practice. Today, meals are eaten swiftly and often with the aid of beverages. Ideally, we should chew each bite of food 30 plus times in a relaxed fashion. The consumption of water or liquids does not help digestion, and instead, saliva should help break down our food. Smelling your food and taking care of its preparation will encourage salvia production which aids in healthier digestion. Chewing is one of the most undervalued habits we forget to develop – so let’s make a conscious effort to do it well.
4) EAT SLOWLY – ENJOY YOUR FOOD!
When you eat fast, you impair digestion which consequently dampens your nervous system. In many cases, sleep and recovery is affected when you eat too fast, which in return affects our adaptation to exercise. Aside from chewing 30 times per bite, another method to help improve the absorption of the food is to put your fork down after every bite – This helps to not only improve digestion, but also to cue you in on satiety signals.
5) EAT WITH COMPANY
One final method to improve digestion, and to eat more slowly, is to eat with friends and family. We are tribal creatures that are wired to eat with other people. So, sit down with your favourite people, find something to talk about, have a good time, and enjoy your meal.
The more conscious we are about our eating habits, and the more intention we can put behind our nutrition with not only WHAT we eat, but HOW we eat it, the more long term connection & satisfaction we will have with nourishment.