Dear Stomach, Let's Be Friends.

Are you friends with your stomach? Do you listen to it's cries for help or notice when it doesn't agree with something you ate? Do you eat just enough so your stomach is satisfied, but not over full? Well, my dear stomach, I must confess that in the past I have treated you badly, I have ignored the messages you have tried to send me, but that is going to end here. From now on, stomach, let's be friends. Now to everyone reading this, please don't think I am crazy! I am simply making a point, that you too should be/become friends with your stomach. Not every person is the same and not every stomach is the same and so you must listen carefully to the signs your stomach gives you and treat it care and it will care for you. Here are a few simple ways to be friends with your stomach:

1. Listen to your stomach! If you eat something and then notice that you don't feel well afterwards (i.e. cramps, stomach aches, bloating), then that is probably your stomach trying to tell you that you shouldn't eat that food. For lots of people this is gluten, for other dairy, for me, corn, especially corn chips is the worst. Also, listen when your stomach is full, that means, when you reach the point of fullness, STOP EATING! (This is a major issue for me as I tend to justify that if a food is yummy and healthy I can eat as much of it as I like, my stomach tends to disagree).

2. Treat your stomach kindly. Start your day with lemon juice in hot water, it is cleansing, aids digestion and like a refreshing morning wake up for your stomach. Eating the right foods is being kind to your stomach. Drinking plenty of water is being kind to your stomach. Not overeating is being kind to your stomach (as explained above). Ensuring you are  'regular' is being kind to your stomach. Detoxing is being kind to your stomach.

3. Learn your limits and eat slowly. If you are anything like me, you might have on occasion (okay, often), eaten more than you need (or a LOT more than you need) and felt quite unwell as a result. Do you notice how your stomach bloats up and growls when you do this? It means you probably shouldn't do it again. Learning what 'full' feels like can be difficult, but eating slowly, chewing your food thoroughly and actually tasting each mouthful is a good start. If you devour a meal in less that 20 minutes you are not even giving your stomach time to register that you are eating, therefore it doesn't have time to register the 'full' feeling. There is a Japanese proverb that states "Eat until 80% full." This is a great guideline, as this means your are not completely full, but you are no longer hungry either. Your stomach will love you if you can manage this at most meals.

4. Keep it routine. Eating at regular intervals and keeping your eating times relatively the same can help your stomach to fall into a pattern and improve your metabolism. Sporadic dieting, ignoring hunger, overeating or eating at unusual times (e.g. midnight; you are meant to fast while you sleep) can mess up your metabolism and ultimately cause it to slow down and be less effective. Always make sure you start the day with a nutritious breakfast to 'break the fast' and kick your metabolism into gear, then enjoy small, nutritious snacks between meals when hunger strikes, such as a handful of nuts.

So, to finish off, to my stomach, if you are listening, I pledge to be kinder to you so that we may become the best of friends and enjoy a life of happiness together.

Are you friends with your stomach? How are you kind to your stomach?

Keep healthy, Erica xx