Healthy Eating Tip #8

It’s crucial to be in the right frame of mind in order to properly digest our meals, and to ingest the nutrients from our food. Any form of mental/emotional stress is detrimental to our assimilation of nutrients.

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Our autonomic nervous systems have two sides: “fight or flight” and “rest and digest.” When we’re in “fight-or-flight” mode, our bodies delay non-urgent activities to address the more urgent task of getting us out of danger.

In This Post:

  • Why your autonomic nervous system affects digestion
  • How to absorb those expensive nutrients in the organic food you eat….

You are What You Eat and What you Assimilate.

What’s the sense of paying extra for organic food with higher nutrient value, if we’re not absorbing the nutrients in the food? Being overly stressed during a meal will greatly handicap our bodies ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Digestion is not a priority when we’re running for our lives from a wild animal (or arguing with our spouse). Getting blood flow to our large muscle groups and pumping out stress hormones such as cortisol, and adrenalin are far more important priorities when our stress response is active.

Even though most of us aren’t running from lions these days, the body behaves much the same way when we’re angry or stressed. If you’ve just had a fight with your spouse, it’s best to wait until you’ve calmed down before you eat.

If you’ve had a particularly stressful day at work or a stressful drive home, “chillax” a little before you eat.

One way to get in the right frame of mind before a meal is to pray or meditate. We especially want to experience gratitude. We cannot be angry and grateful at the same time. Having an attitude of gratitude is helpful anytime, but especially before we sit down to eat.

Turn off the TV and the Cellphones

Another thing to do is turn off the television, especially if you’re watching the news. The news media are experts at getting us wound up. It’s good for ratings, but not good for our health, and especially not good for digestion. When you’re about to eat, just say “no” to television.

Put down the cell phone. Forget social media. No checking emails. No text messaging. If possible, engage in pleasant conversation with another human being. Look them in the eye. Ask them about their day.

At our house, we like to ask each family member: “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”


  • You are what you eat and what you assimilate.
  • Stress, through the autonomic nervous system, will block the absorption of nutrients.
  • Prayer and meditation is a great thing to do before meals.

Getting Started

  • Before eating a full meal, ask yourself: what is your current level of stress.
  • Never eat when you’re angry.
  • Pray before eating a big meal. Your body will thank you.

About the Author David Sandstrom

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