Flat(ter) Belly Fix: Why Eating Right & Exercise May Not Be Enough

I hate to say it, but maybe like millions of Americans, yes, there may be an internal glitch keeping you from optimal results…oh, and stressing about it, yeah, that’s only making it worse. So take this quick quiz and see, note 1 point for each Yes answer:

    1. Do you feel tired despite having eaten regular meals made of better quality foods?
    2. Do you have regular bloating, gas (and add an extra point if it smells “foul”) after eating?
    3. Do you feel hungry shortly after a meal (30-60 minutes)?
    4. Have you looked at your bowel movements and seen whole foods or pieces of undigested food?

If you scored any points, suboptimal digestion may be the reason. For numerous reasons (being raised on antibiotics, taking other medications, hurried or multi-tasking eating, consuming chemistry lab projects versus real food), your digestive system likely isn’t breaking all your food down into usable nutrients and getting those nutrients where they need to be – to your cells for energy and function.

What to do? Here’s the Rx:

  1. The simplest, yet toughest: improve your eating behavior. Slow down, chew more, breathe more, take smaller bites, and for goodness sake stop eating while driving or being on a conference call or doing both! The body doesn’t take well to distraction, in fact it perceives it as stress. So no matter how “great” that kale salad is for you, it’s not getting where it needs to be. When the body smells stress, it abandons digestion and your food goes undigested either for elimination or fat storage.
  2. Skip chemistry lab, head to cooking school (or at least ‘some assembly required’ prep class) instead. When we give the body what it recognizes, it uses it – efficiently and effectively. When we give it what it doesn’t, it gets confused and irritated. In the beginning, it may slow down and try to figure out how to get what it needs, but the longer term prognosis is frustration and rebellion (ie gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation etc). So instead of buying ready-made meals, buy better quality ingredients and assemble them yourself.
  3. Get your digestive system a personal assistant. Because just chewing more and eating better quality may not do the trick, your system could use some extra help. Digestive enzymes (ie digestion’s “personal assistant”) naturally exist in our body with the sole task of breaking apart carbs, fats, proteins, and fibers into usable pieces for your parts. Thus, increasing enzymes in your digestive tract will help breakdown your food more thoroughly. You can increase your intake of foods which contain digestive enzymes (like papaya, grapefruit, and pineapple to break down proteins) or begin taking a quality digestive enzyme supplement (AKA rec: Enzymedica) with meals, especially ones that include heavier foods or ones you don’t eat regularly or ones that tend to give you issues.
Published on: December 03, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Ashely Koff RD

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and the author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged.

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