Tips to Eating More Mindfully For a Happy Gut

 A photo of Kiki and Heather at Lemon Water Wellness. They discuss mindful eating and other tips regarding overall health and health food.

Heather Lillico is the mindful eating and yogi queen at Lemon Water Wellness, a bright and airy clinic committed to providing the highest level of holistic health care solutions, treatment, and product to local Toronto clients.

Heather sees clients all across the board (working with various types of disordered eating cases) and learned through her training at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) that we are all so unique and hence the solutions are never one-size-fits-all. With that said, one thing does tend to ‘stick’, and it’s at the heart of ‘eating healthy’.

It’s called Mindful Eating, and here are the go-to strategies that have proven most successful with clients:

  • Start by practicing the engagement of all senses with a small snack (e.g. just a handful of almonds) → look at the snack and appreciate where it came from (e.g. the blooming almond tree), smell them, be curious to their taste (as if you’ve never tried them before), explore their texture as it changes in your mouth and as you chew, and even listen to the noise that’s created as you eat…

  • Focus on chewing. Most people chew each bite just a few times - but that’s far from ideal for our digestion. Instead, try to up your chewing game to 15-20 times per bite!

  • Find a quiet space for meals. Mealtime is precious ‘you-time’. Make it count and make it yours. Don’t be afraid to segment off a chunk of your time to leisurely enjoy your meal peacefully - it will pay off when you don’t suffer from digestive issues that leave you stalled or generally less productive later on in your day…

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While the above may seem either totally nuts or just completely out of reach - fear not. Heather is a big advocate for celebrating small wins, and that means just choosing one new mindful eating strategy to implement for just one of your meals (or snacks) each day. It’ll get easier as you quickly start to reap the benefits of better digestion and just genuinely enjoying your food more.

I certainly think the one thing we can all do a little better with when it comes to diet is not “what” but “how” - and by that I mean truly tuning into our internal hunger signals. Perhaps it’s not what you should be eating that’s worth the second-guessing, but rather try to refocus your attention on if and when you’re really hungry. Listening to your body, and then cueing in to exactly what it feels like, is the most powerful “diet” you can follow for meeting all your “goals” in the most natural and sustainable way possible.

Of course, food does count too, so I made sure to get this digestive expert’s top picks for gut health.

Foods To Eat For a Happy Tummy

Heather simplifies that it all comes down to 2 key things: probiotics (good bacteria) + prebiotics (food for that good bacteria).

Probiotic of choice = kimchi (cabbage is already a prebiotic, so when you ferment it, it also serves as a prebiotic → all ‘all-in-one-biotic’ so to speak…).

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Prebiotic of choice = Jerusalem artichokes. These guys may be ugly, but they’re beaming with health benefits, and you’d be surprised what sort of delicious creations you can whip up out of them...I for one have fallen in love with Sarah Britton’s Crusted Jerusalem Artichokes with Beluga Lentils, Kale and Harissa (find it on the My New Roots blog here).

So whether you’re working with healing IBS or any digestive disturbances (and isn’t that most of us?!) Heather suggests you find what works for YOU - pick the mindful eating strategies that you most resonate with and allow you to truly enjoy your meals, and remember to include some pre and probiotics (preferably in every meal!).

Interested in working with Heather? You can visit her website at www.heatherlillico.com, or e-mail her at Heather@lemonwaterwellness.ca. You can also learn more on the alumni page of CSNN.