Today we’re featuring a guest post by Alyssa D’Amico, wellness coach and owner of Niche Wellness – you may recognize her from a wonderful cooking demo she led at the market earlier this season.
Each week, thousands of community members shop the farmers’ market for a variety of fresh and local food items. The bounty of vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, and grains available in Northeastern Ohio makes it an ideal location for health conscious individuals and foodies alike. Buying and eating local is key to a well-balanced and whole foods diet.
However, it is important to consider not only what you eat, but also how you digest and assimilate your local food.
Minor digestive complaints can affect everyone at some point; it is when these issues become chronic that it is necessary to assess your diet and lifestyle. Three places to explore are stress level, conscious chewing, and food allergies or sensitivities.
Stress can greatly reduce your digestive ability. If you are not in a relaxed state, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, you will not be able to secrete necessary enzymes and gastric juices to break down food. Meals on the go, while driving, or in an emotional state are not given appropriate attention in the body. Taking time to sit down with your meal is very important. Better yet, connecting to your locally-grown food by preparing a home-cooked dish prepares your body for the upcoming meal.
Next, consider how you are mechanically breaking down your food. Loaded forks and minimal chewing can be a local recipe for disaster. Enzymes in your mouth help break down food if you give them time to work their magic. Put the fork down and chew your food well. This also reduces work for your stomach that, unlike your mouth, does not have teeth. Conscious chewing will help you to slow down and recognize fullness before it is too late.
Lastly, notice how your body reacts to different food. The best way to do this is by keeping a food journal. Chart food consumed and any related disturbances including digestive complaints, mood issues, headaches, or energy levels. These can all be clues to what foods are best for your body. Gluten and dairy are foods individuals commonly react to, along with eggs, corn, peanuts, soy, and artificial sweeteners. Eliminating these foods for a period of time and then adding them back, one at time, may help you determine if they are healthful for you.
Using these three strategies may help you and your family if digestive issues arise. Properly breaking down locally-grown foods will allow the body to utilize their full nutrient capacity and ensure you get the bang for your local buck.
For more information on my services please visit my website at www.nichewellness.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.