April is IBS awareness month – but you might have seen that it’s also stress awareness month! If you suffer from either of these issues, you know that they often occur together.
Experiencing IBS can often cause stress,1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219460/ which could be linked to eating certain foods or having social meals. And when you’re stressed, it can work the other way around as well; stress can upset your stomach and lead to a flare-up of IBS.
Mindful eating is a method that brings awareness to your eating habits, calming your system and improving both mental health and digestion.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556586/ A few simple changes to your eating habits can both help manage your stress AND your IBS symptoms.
There are other benefits to mindful eating as well – it can also help with weight management, and recognising unhealthy eating patterns.3https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide
Here are a few ways to get started
1. Remove mealtime distractions
Distractions like social media and television can pull focus away from your eating experience and your ability to connect to the people you love. Try removing these for a week, and paying attention to your plate instead. This creates a healthy environment for eating and can help you listen to your body.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219460/ Consider these simple questions: How hungry am I? What flavours can I taste? How does this meal make me feel? This is also a good way to recognise any triggers of your IBS symptoms.
2. Slow down
Our body needs time to recognise how much food we’re eating. If you eat too fast, you’ll often over-eat before your body can tell you to stop.5https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide Try to chew your food more, place your fork down between bites, and avoid putting too much on your plate.
3. Eat together
Eating meals together can have a very positive impact on both stress and your digestion. It provides a social opportunity for friends, which can help reduce stress. This can also help create a healthy environment for the family.6https://theconversation.com/family-meals-are-good-for-the-grown-ups-too-not-just-the-kids-158739 Pausing for conversation can also aid the digestive process.
Let us know if you’ve tried mindful eating, and share your best tips in the comments below 🙂
Bon Appétit from The Goats!