3 Mindful Eating Tips for a Healthy & Happy Gut

Storefront with wooden front desk under two black hanging lamps with the stamp General Lemon Water Wellness Store on the white wall behind.

Heather Lillico is the mindful eating and yogi queen at Lemon Water Wellness, a bright and airy clinic committed to providing the highest level of holistic health care solutions, treatment, and products to local Toronto clients.

Heather sees clients all across the board (working with various types of disordered eating cases) and learned through her training at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) that we are all so unique and hence the solutions are never one-size-fits-all. With that said, one thing does tend to ‘stick’, and it’s at the heart of eating healthy.

It’s called Mindful Eating, which is when we bring awareness to practice of eating. Rathering than wolfing down food without a thought, mindful eating helps us become attuned with our body to recognize its needs and when it’s satiated. Here are Heather’s go-to strategies that have proven most successful with clients:

  • Start by practicing the engagement of all senses with a small snack (e.g. just a handful of almonds). Look at the snack and appreciate where it came from (e.g. the blooming almond tree), smell them, be curious to their taste (as if you’ve never tried them before), explore their texture as it changes in your mouth and as you chew, and even listen to the noise that’s created as you eat.
  •  Focus on chewing. Most people chew each bite just a few times – but that’s far from ideal for our digestion. Instead, try to up your chewing game to 15-20 times per bite!
  • Find a quiet space for meals. Mealtime is precious ‘you-time’. Make it count and make it yours. Don’t be afraid to segment off a chunk of your time to leisurely enjoy your meal peacefully – it will pay off when you don’t suffer from digestive issues that leave you stalled or generally less productive later on in your day.

While the above may seem either totally nuts or just completely out of reach – fear not. Heather is a big advocate for celebrating small wins, and that means just choosing one new mindful eating strategy to implement for just one of your meals (or snacks) each day. It’ll get easier as you quickly start to reap the benefits of better digestion and just genuinely enjoying your food more.

Two women sit in the lobby of a wellness center smiling and talking to one another.

I certainly think the one thing we can all do a little better when it comes to diet is not “what” but “how” – and by that I mean truly tuning into our internal hunger signals. Perhaps it’s not what you should be eating that’s worth the second-guessing, but rather try to refocus your attention on if and when you’re really hungry. Listening to your body, and then cueing in to exactly what it feels like, is the most powerful “diet” you can follow for meeting all your “goals” in the most natural and sustainable way possible.

Of course, food does count too, so I made sure to get this digestive expert’s top picks for gut health.


Foods To Eat For a Happy Tummy

Heather simplifies that it all comes down to 2 key things: probiotics (good bacteria) + prebiotics (food for that good bacteria).

Probiotic of choice = kimchi. Cabbage is already a probiotic, so when you ferment it, it also serves as a prebiotic. Thus, an all-in-one-biotic.

Prebiotic of choice = Jerusalem artichokes. These guys may be ugly, but they’re beaming with health benefits, and you’d be surprised what sort of delicious creations you can whip up out of them. I for one have fallen in love with holistic nutritionist Sarah Britton’s recipe for Crusted Jerusalem Artichokes with Beluga Lentils, Kale and Harissa.

Whether you’re working with healing IBS or any digestive disturbances (and isn’t that most of us?!) Heather suggests you find what works for YOU. Pick the mindful eating strategies that you most resonate with and allow yourself to truly enjoy your meals, and remember to include some pre and probiotics (preferably in every meal!).


(Header image from Lemon Water Wellness)