Mindful Eating for Chronic Pain
When we are suffering with some form of chronic ill-health and are looking for solutions, diet is often where our thoughts turn. Our food choices are an important part of the process of fuelling good health. It can also fuel poor health as well, so undoubtedly needs attention. However, there are some simple tricks and tips that go beyond what you are eating and focus on how you are eating. Mindful eating for chronic pain is worth a focus. Read on for some simple steps that you can take today to get your life back on track.
Mindful Eating for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 1.
The first thing to think about is where you are eating. There is a huge temptation to eat in front of the TV, or whilst scrolling through your phone, but this is not mindful eating. It is the opposite – it is mindless. Focusing on your food is an important part of digestion. It also increases your enjoyment of what you are eating and makes it more likely that you’ll eat sufficient but not too much. So that means you need to sit at a table, with no screens in sight. Don’t let eating on your own mean that the eating environment doesn’t matter. Use a table cloth, light a candle, put some music on. Make your meal an occasion!
Mindful Eating for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 2
Chewing is one of the first and therefore important parts of the digestive process. Take your time to enjoy the feel and taste of the food in your mouth, chewing until everything is liquid and easy to swallow. This makes it easy on your stomach, as you’ve done some of the digesting in your mouth. Chewing is important for everyone but particularly for those who have digestive issues. A simple mindful eating step you can take at your next meal.
Mindful Eating for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 3
If your life is stressful, then it becomes harder to digest your food. And let’s face it, being in chronic pain is stressful in its own right. Your body prioritises the physiological processes that happen during times of stress. When this is happening, your digestion is shut down in favour of keeping you safe from whatever the stress might be. The problem with the stress that comes with chronic pain, is that it is insidious and very different to the acute stress that comes with running away from a bear.
So, what can you do to help your body into digestive mode before a meal if you are feeling stressed? A simple strategy is to take some time as you sit before your food to do 5 slow and deep breaths. Close your eyes, breath in slowly, hold gently for a second and breath out slowly. This short moment calms your nervous system and will help get you into para-sympathetic mode for digesting your meal.
Mindful Eating for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 4
Social eating has been a challenge for many over the past years of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on our freedoms look set to continue. When you can do it safely, try to organise some form of social eating situation 2-3 times a week. A lunch out, coffee and muffins on a park bench with a friend, dinner with family. The social sharing of food is an important part of our human existence and helps us connect with ourselves, our fellow human beings and the world around us. If in the current circumstances, this is challenging for you, set up a ‘zoom meal’. Not the same as being around the same table, but some chat and chatter whilst you enjoy your food feels refreshing.
If you suffer from chronic pain, these simple changes are within your grasp. They are not, in themselves, going to be your solution. However, they are pebbles on the right side of the scales. Make them a routine part of your life and they will be making a difference. You can then work on adding more positive pebbles once you feel able and eventually, your situation will start to shift, away from daily pain and towards the life that you want.
If you would like to discuss your own situation with chronic pain, and how nutrition and lifestyle changes may be able to help, you can book a free call with me. It is worth investing in your health so you can get your life back on track. Call me to find out more.