This will drastically improve your digestion without any drugs
Plant Oils Are Not a Healthy Alternative to Animal Fat

(Approximate reading time 3 minutes)

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Poor digestion had been a life long struggle for me, up til a couple of years ago.  After all the traditional treatments failed me, both western and Chinese, I had to explore the path out on my own.  What eventually saved me are what I call three Ds:

Diet: knowing what you should eat and what you should not.  Sometimes what not to eat is more important than what to eat.

Detoxification: people often don’t realize how all the toxins accumulated throughout our lives can mess up our digestive system.  I did not realize the power of detoxification until digestive tract clean-up and liver detox gave me unbelievable results.

Destress: learning to manage stress and put myself more often in the parasympathetic state.  This has greatly helped with my overall health, including digestion.

And there is something else, something I’ve been still trying to do more consistently and be more masterful at.  Whenever I remember to practice it, I see a big difference in my digestive health.

It is called mindful eating.

Mindfulness as a practice, as an attitude, as a gateway to peace, and as a way of life, has gained widespread popularity.  To put it in simple terms, being mindful basically means bringing full attention to whatever we are doing at the moment, without any judgement.  Mindful eating is basically a part of, or an extension of this philosophy.

Mindful eating is meant to bring our full awareness to everything associated with eating: the food itself, the physical sensations,  and the emotional states associated with food.

Though there is no formal definition or agreed-upon principles around mindful eating, the teachings of mindful eating usually center around the following practices:

  • Contemplate the origins of food on your plate, where they come from and how they end up being in front of you

  • Offer gratitude to the food and people who make the meal possible

  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly

  • Pay attention to the physical and emotional cues of hunger and fullness

  • Focus on the experience of eating by engaging all senses

These may all seem simple and even irrelevant to digestion, but studies have shown that mindful eating helps to "maintain PSNS (parasympathetic nervous system) dominance, helping to cultivate autonomic nervous system (ANS) homeostasis vital for optimal digestive function”.  I can personally attest to this.  Whenever I slow down and pay attention to what I eat and try to chew the food thoroughly, my digestion is beautiful.

In fact, the benefits of mindful eating is not just limited to digestion.  Research shows that mindful eating can help with weight loss, making healthier food choices, avoiding overeating, and even help with treatment with eating disorders.

These all sound great, but in reality, practicing every single one of these principles all the times can be challenging.  After all, who has time to contemplate how a carrot ends up on your plate at every meal?  These formal mindful eating practices can be saved for a retreat or training sessions or practiced on occasions.   For our everyday life, even just focusing on one or two aspects of mindful eating can make tremendous difference to your digestive health.

For example, emotional eating is a problem for a lot of people, without some of them realizing it.  Instead of being the means of sustenance, eating has become a way to fill some holes deep insides us.  When we feel lonely, hurt, upset, insecure, so often we feel the desire to reach for a bag of chips or a cupcake to make us forget the unwanted emotions temporarily.  A lot of times, when you feel the desire to eat, what you really need is not that pint of ice cream, but a warm hug.

Realizing your hunger cue is emotional rather than physical makes it more likely to make the right decision.  Instead of mindless chowing down some comfort food, you can do something else: call a friend, read something you love, listen to some music, have a cup of tea, do a few minutes of meditation, whatever relaxes you and take your mind off the desire to eat.

In addition to paying attention to emotional hunger cues, I have also chosen to focus on eating without distractions and chewing thoroughly.

This may seem too trivial, but it has done wonders for me.

I used to like multi-tasking while eating: watching videos, listening to podcast, even reading.  It made me feel productive.  I have stopped doing this since I made the decision to be more mindful with eating.  Now, even when I eat alone, I block out all distractions and take my time to have a sit-down proper meal.  

Eating slow and chewing food thoroughly may seem too simple, but it has tremendous healing power.   Most of us swallow before the food is fully chewed.  We may not realize it, but this adds a lot of work to our digestive system to fully break down the food.  Next time after you take a bite, pay attention to how many times you chew before swallowing.  If it is less than 30 times, it’s probably not enough chewing.  In her book “Liquids till Lunch: 12 Small Habits That Will Change Your Life for Good”, the famous nutritionist MaryRuth Ghiyam advocates “chew your foods until it is liquid”.  This may sound too much, but it can be extremely helpful, especially for people with poor digestion.

Here I offer some tips for starting to practice mindful eating:

  • When you feel the desire to eat, ask yourself the question: Am I really hungry?  Or I just want to eat?

  • Always sit down to eat, avoiding eating on the go.

  • When you eat, just eat.  Avoid multi-tasking.

  • If possible, take a couple of minutes before eating, do a few deep breathing.

  • Try to savor every bite, the taste, the texture, and the aroma.

  • Put down the fork or chopsticks between bites or from time to time during the meal to avoid rushing through.

  • Chew every bite for at least 35 times.

Like everything else, practice makes perfect.  Next time you forget the whole thing about slowing down and chewing until the last bite, it’s ok.  Just chew the last bite for 35 times.  Next time, it may be two bites, then three, then maybe half of the meal.  When you learn to slow down and savor the food, you will find you actually eat less, enjoy it more, and are more satisfied.  Your digestion will also sing your praise.


  • Christine E Cherpak. Mindful Eating: A Review Of How The Stress-Digestion-Mindfulness Triad May Modulate And Improve Gastrointestinal And Digestive Function

  • T Asadollahi, S Khakpour, F Ahmadi, L Seyedeh, Tahami, S Matoo, and H Bermas. Effectiveness of mindfulness training and dietary regime on weight loss in obese people

  • Gillian A. O’Reilly, B.S., Lauren Cook, B.S., Donna Spruijt-Metz, Ph.D., M.F.A, and David S. Black, Ph.D., M.P.H.  Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Obesity-Related Eating Behaviors: A Literature Review

  • Ocean Robbins.  What Is Mindful Eating? Benefits & How It Works

  • Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.  Mindful Eating

  •  6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating