Tell us a little bit about the research about how much time women spend eating meals
For this year’s annual Gut Week (19th– 25th August) we’ve focused on how the nation is eating to understand what effects this can have on people’s lives now and in the future. Our research has uncovered just how little time women are spending on eating meals. We understand for many women this is a natural consequence, but not taking the time out to eat and digest food can have a long term negative impact.
What sort of impact is this having on our digestive system?
Women are becoming increasingly uncomfortable in their guts, with problems such as bloating, wind and indigestion. If you feel uncomfortable in your gut, you are more likely to feel unhappy about your body shape and this can have a negative impact on your mood; so the implications of not looking after the digestive system are wide and very real in today's busy lifestyle.
What tips do you have for women to sit down and enjoy their meals?
It can be very valuable to take a fifteen minute break, turn off the phones and technology. Take yourself away from the work desk, even turn off the home phone, so you can enjoy savouring your food in a peaceful moment with fifteen uninterrupted minutes whilst eating. This will not only give you an amazing refreshing break, but it will also help the gut start to digest the food, meaning your body will feel much more comfortable.
Are there any particular foods we should try to avoid, or eat less of because they’re harder to digest?
Although the human body is individual and everyone often experiences different things with foods, we do find that very fatty and sugary foods are the hardest to digest. Interestingly if you have a sensitive gut, you may also find that cooked vegetables and fruits are easier to digest than raw.
Which foods are easy to digest?
You can mix it up with salads containing cooked vegetables and fruit, which can be delicious. Foods eaten slowly and given time to digest, by not rushing around are generally easier on your digestive system. Cooked apple is one of the best fruits to digest; start the day with some cooked Bramley apple and Greek style yoghurt, which is delicious and easy on the gut.
Are there any combinations of foods that we should avoid altogether and disrupt our digestive system?
Foods that are high in fat, fried and very sweet are the worst.
There is a lot going on about gluten free, how much of an impact does gluten have on our bodies?
Many people find gluten hard to digest, although they don't have Coeliac diseases (the immunological condition) where there is an allergic reaction to gluten. The issue for non coeliac’s seems to be more that they don't feel great eating gluten, with bloating and gut discomfort being common. The best thing to do is to explore the problem by keeping a diary of what you eat and how you feel. See if by reducing the quantity of gluten in your diet, you feel more comfortable. It may be that you don't need to avoid it, more that you need to juggle the quantity issue.
Even if you’re not allergic to it, do you think it’s a positive change to make to your diet?
It can for many, so it’s worth exploring, but make sure that you still have a diet which nourishes you, by replacing with other sources of carbohydrate, such as rice or sweet potato.
If you could advise people in this day to make three changes to their diet, what would it be?
Take time in a day to give your body a chance to digest the food, by not rushing meals. Be mindful of everything you eat, so you ask “is this going to nourish me”, before you eat it and drink plenty of water or herbal infusions to help your gut digest the foods efficiency
Finally, what are your ultimate nutrition tips?
Really focus on the vegetable and fruit intake. Whist we may be pretty good at enjoying fruits; vegetables and salads can be few and far between and they can be delicious and oh so good for the body.