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Mindful Eating To Support Autoimmune Disease

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Of all the Nutritional Therapy tools in my Diet and Lifestyle Medicine toolkit, mindful eating might be one of my favourites. It can help to promote a relaxed state in which your body is able to better break down and absorb food, and is a simple tool that can yield quick improvements.

Did you know that digestion and gut health are frequently compromised in autoimmunity? In fact, the gut is often where the cascade of health issues begin - Hippocrates suggested this around 2500 years ago! Poor digestion can cause nutrient deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, and loss of tolerance - a state in which the immune system fails to identify 'self' from 'non-self', so it is extremely important for autoimmunity that we address not only what we eat, but how we eat.

All disease begins in the gut.” - Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine

Mindful Eating 101

Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to all aspects of your food and the process of eating. It involves slowing down, limiting distractions, paying attention to what you are eating, and focusing on the act of chewing.

Tips for mindful eating:

  • Limit distractions such as the TV, screens, or reading

  • Step away from your work desk if possible

  • Take a moment to get present by taking some slow deep breaths

  • Observe the colours and smell of your meal

  • Pay attention to the different textures and flavours

  • Chew slowly and until you reach a baby-food like consistency

  • Be mindful of when you become full

Benefits Of Mindful Eating

  • Helps reduce stress, as it shifts you from ‘flight or fight’ mode into 'rest and digest' mode.

  • Reduces digestive symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, and gas.

  • Improves nutrient absorption.

  • Reduces intestinal permeability.

  • Reduces local and systemic inflammation.

  • Reduces risk of dysbiosis.

This figure from the paper Mindful Eating: A Review Of How The Stress-Digestion-Mindfulness Triad May Modulate And Improve Gastrointestinal And Digestive Function highlights the huge impact that stress has on our digestion, and how this impacts the health of our entire body.

In particular, impairment of nutrient absorption, increased inflammation, and increased intestinal permeability are major factors in driving autoimmunity, so I encourage you to try mindful eating as a simple way to help support these areas of your health.

Next Steps

Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

Want to understand more about nutrition for autoimmune diseases? Download my free recipe book and discover 12 Nutritionist-Certified Recipes to Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Autoimmunity & Chronic Illness.


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