For anyone struggling with longstanding digestive issues, figuring out the right foods to eat can be tough. There are endless dietary recommendations: eat fermented, fibrous, whole, unprocessed. But how we eat can be just as important as what. As a nation of snackers and fast eaters, overeating is one of the most common causes of bloating, indigestion and other disruptive symptoms. It's easy to forget that the digestive system is a sophisticated piece of equipment, not a trash compactor, and it needs time and space to do it's thing.
Overeating has important emotional underpinnings, too. Loneliness, boredom, anxiousness....sometimes we eat to fill that void, and this can confuse signal switches in the body. Are you eating too fast? Under stress? Standing up? Too late at night? When we use food to cover up unpleasant feelings, we over-tax the body's ability to do what it came to do. We dampen the digestive fire that turns nutrients into fuel.
But digestive fire is more than just the ability to process ingredients well. Having a fire in your belly means you are in touch with your inner drive and passion -- a hunger to excel and achieve. Many times difficult emotions like grief, sadness, and ambivalence can mask a deeper passion waiting to be revealed.
Ask yourself: when was the last time I felt the gurgle and rumble of hunger (and not because you skipped a meal)? Let yourself feel hungry for a moment. Welcome the body's signals that are asking to receive food. Space out meals (without sending your blood sugar plummeting) and honor the innate drive of your gut to "rest and digest". Look closely at the reasons you are snacking constantly or over-doing it at meals. Ask questions like: Am I truly hungry? Imagine the taste and pleasure of the food yet to be received to further stoke those digestive embers.
Burning desires need stoking, too. By leaving space in between meals, we also acknowledge the emotions that can lead to overeating, thus freeing us from their grip. As a result, the fiery, bright and brilliant parts of ourselves have more chance to shine. We digest those emotions along with everything else, and they become our fuel.