Heartburn: The Emotional Connection

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In this series on heartburn, I have revealed the hidden causes and shared strategies for successfully ending medication. There is another cause for heartburn, however. If you’ve eliminated problem foods and have successfully ended medication but are still experiencing heartburn, your emotional connection to your food may be the underlying cause. Eating too quickly or while under stress inhibits proper digestion. Below, I share how to practice mindful eating, so that you may enjoy your meals and live a truly heartburn-free life.

Emotional Heartburn

Stress and Digestion

In order for proper digestion to occur, our bodies must be in a state of rest. Eating while on the go or under emotional strain can cause all sorts of digestive upset. While under stress, our bodies automatically shift into fight-or-flight mode. While this is useful in times of great danger, it takes a toll on our digestive health. Once our bodies receive the stress signal, our energy is redirected to either meet the danger head-on or flee. Digestion is a non-essential function for survival, and undigested food is not broken down properly. Instead of quickly consuming a meal while stressed, take several deep breaths before you begin. Allow your parasympathetic nervous system to take over. This creates an optimal digestive state.

Honoring Our Food

Rushed, unhealthy meals are not only a disservice to our bodies, but to the food itself. Taking the time to prepare our bodies for digestion begins with knowing what we are consuming. In times of stress and emotional upheaval, it can be tempting to binge-eat or avoid food altogether. However, having a foundation of mindful eating can prepare us for a much more pleasing meal experience, and prevent heartburn! Choose foods that are wholesome and nourishing instead of just grabbing whatever is easiest. Begin by approaching each meal with a grateful attitude. Visualize the food nourishing your body.

Mindful vs. Emotional Eating

Resolve to be mindful while eating. Notice the colors and textures of the food, the taste of each bite. Consider where each ingredient came from, and be grateful that it has made it’s way to your plate. Chew thoroughly, and swallow. Digestion begins in the mouth, and by taking the time to chew your food, you lessen the burden on the rest of your digestive system.

You’ll notice that this is quite the opposite of how most of our meals are consumed. We’re taught to squeeze in a quick breakfast in the midst of a busy morning, throw together a lunch during the most stressful part of our day, and reward ourselves with a heavy, hearty dinner and possible dessert. Emotional eating encourages us to turn the mind off while eating and focuses on numbing the emotions that often occur around food.

Mindful eating is the exact opposite. It encourages us to come to the table with an open heart and a relaxed mind.

An Emotional Eating Makeover

If you’re ready to end heartburn for good, I challenge you to embrace eating mindfully. Take the time to quiet your mind before you pick up your fork. Allow the stress of the day to melt away. Take a few deep breaths, and focus on the nourishment in front of you. Eat slowly, chewing each bite completely before swallowing. Tune into the tastes and textures, and maintain a grateful attitude. You’ll finish your meal feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to digest. And heartburn will be a distant memory.

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