This year has been a rollar coaster. I can’t wait to have a break and finally get to a few things around the house. This crazy busy time has led me to reflect on a few things though.
We spend our lives stressed out. When we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system is active. This system kicks in our “fight or flight” mode. Our heart beats faster, our blood sugar raises, our digestion is put on hold and our pupils dilate. All great things if we are being chased by a bear, not so great if we are sitting in traffic. Did you notice where I said our blood sugars raise? Imagine now what happens when our blood sugar is raised due to stress and we grab a doughnut in the morning for breakfast. Our sugars go sky high and if left uncontrolled, diabetes eventually follows.
While many of us are not grabbing a doughnut for breakfast, we are still eating while we are stressed and that still has an extremely negative impact on our blood sugar. So how do we calm down?
The sympathetic nervous system has a partner system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is meant to kick in after stress is over.Often referred to as our “rest and digest” mode, this system lowers our blood sugar, returns our heartbeat to normal and turns our digestion back on. Pretty important huh? In today’s world though, the stress never seems to be over. This means we have to actually remind our bodies to manually kick on the parasympathetic nervous system. We can actually do that by breathing. Sounds simple right? See we have a nerve in our nose called the olfactory nerve and when we breathe in deeply and slowly, this nerve is activated. This nerve is directly linked to the parasympathetic nervous system. Essentially serving as a manual switch that turns the sympathetic system off and the parasympathetic on. I want to share a technique I recently learned and have empolyed with great success.
Before eating take a deep breath in through your nose, while mentally counting to 4. Hold this breathe for a count of 10, then slowly blow out through your mouth. It is important to blow out slowly or you may feel light headed. Repeat 10 times.
Your parasympathetic system should now be fully engaged and your body is ready to digest your food without spiking your blood sugar. This means better nutrient absorption, lower blood sugars and frankly a better eating experience. Don’t forget to put away all electronic devices and treat every meal like a special occasion.
I hope this helps you understand the why behind relaxing while eating and gives you the tools that you need. Drop a comment below if you have questions I love to hear from my readers!