One of the primary principles when it comes to mindful and intuitive eating is to listen and tune into our gut instincts.  For many of us, this takes retraining of our brain patterns to even tap into this natural instinct. The idea of mindful and intuitive eating can be incredibly intimidating because of this.  A lot of us don’t know where to start.  

I hate to make it more complicated, but sometimes we actually need to ignore our gut instinct.  

Dieting mentality and the instinct to restrict has overtaken our natural intuitive nature.  So what we believe is our gut instinct is actually dieting patterns that need to be broken. As we flex our intuition and start this journey into mindful eating and allowing all foods into our life, we need to learn how to distinguish between the two things.  

This can be incredibly difficult because we may not know the difference.  This is where education is vital. I believe that education is the root of how we can tap in and tune into our natural intuition.  The more we can debunk nutritional myths, the more we can squash some of those learned “gut instincts” and start to step into our real power.  

We can’t possibly debunk them all at once, so let’s start with someone that a lot of my clients come to me complaining about.  A lot of my clients come to me with a list of various symptoms. However, bloating is a common one that I hear a lot from patients at the doctor’s office where I work as well as in my personal counseling business.  

Everyone seems to be bloated.  

Everyone also believes that the response to bloating is a strict elimination protocol to determine the culprit.  

In theory, this makes sense. Something is upsetting our stomachs, so we assume it is what we’re putting in them. Makes total logical sense. But when we come with the lens of a dieting mentality and wellness culture – this means that we need to restrict in order to determine the issues but also maybe we’ll lose some of our “bloat” weight.  

Most of the time in my clinical practice, I don’t do elimination protocols.  Sometimes, they are necessary. But for bloating, I have found that the root is often not that drastic, but actually a lot more subtle.  

Here are a few things that could be the root cause of your bloating. Try these things first before exploring elimination protocols. If you need to go that route, I strongly urge you to do it with a trained dietitian or nutritionist – not all eliminations are created equal and a trained professional can help distinguish which is the right one for you and help facilitate.  

  • You’re not chewing your food.  Our digestion starts the moment we smell food. We start to salivate and turns on our digestive enzymes and gastric acid that helps break down our food. When we don’t chew our food enough, we don’t turn on those natural mechanisms making it more difficult for our body to break down our food. This causes bloating.  

The response: chew your food – aim for 20-30 chews per bite. No, this is not so you don’t overeat. This is so you turn on your digestive enzymes to breakdown that delish meal you prepared.  If chewing isn’t doing the trick, try a high-quality digestive enzyme supplement.  

  • You’ve been on a restrictive diet.  Yes, when we’ve been on a restrictive diet for a long period of time, especially a low carbohydrate diet, you lose out on a lot of the foods that feed our gut bacteria.  Our gut bacteria is designed to help break down your food. So, when we don’t have enough gut bacteria, this can lead to bloating. But here’s the cool thing… as you start to eat more resistant starches and carbohydrate-rich foods, you might get bloating as a result of starting to feed your gut bacteria.  This bloating is actually a sign that your body is HEALING. 

The response: don’t restrict food groups. They are super necessary.  If you’ve been on a super restrictive diet and are starting to incorporate more complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods, sometimes it’s good to start off slowly increasing your fiber intake in increments.  But also, taking a digestive enzyme and making sure that you’re chewing your food can go a long way. And since this is a bacteria, try taking a probiotic to aid in the process.  

  • You’re stressed. Stress inhibits our digestion.  Yes, you read that correctly. When we are stressed (let’s all collectively admit that we sometimes eat lunch in front of our laptops) when we’re eating, the blood pools away from our stomach which decreases the effectiveness of our digestion.  This can lead to bloating too.  

The response: Step away from the laptop. Take a 10-minute break to eat in solitude.  You deserve it and so does your stomach. I have also found that doing breathing exercises before your meals can help bring us out of our stressed state. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique and see how you feel after you eat. 

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