Monday, June 16, 2014

Healing My Gut {MMC & Feeding Schedules}

I am attempting to rid myself of a few persistent digestive issues by following the real food approach as is outlined in Diane Sanfilippo's Simplified Guide to SIBO {free to newsletter subscribers}. After much reading and research, I believe Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth to be to blame for my discomfort.


Part of approach this includes taking supplements, which you can read more about here, and another part involves modifying my diet slightly for 4+ weeks, which you can read more about here.

The third and final part of the healing process I'm implementing is respecting the MMC better. The MMC, or Migrating Motor Complex, was completely unknown to me when I first read about it in Diane's guide.


What I've since learned is rather fascinating, albeit a bit complex. And it completely knocks the eat-frequent-small-meals theory out of the water. Here's a simplified explanation of digestion, at least how I understood it. {Feel free to contact me to correct any mistakes I may have made.}

  • First, you eat your food. This food goes into your stomach to be initially digested, before moving on in your system, going next into the small intestine. On average, it takes between 3 and 5 hours to completely empty your stomach of all the food {liquid foods, such as smoothies, leave faster than solid foods, such as a steak}.
  • Second, 2 to 3 hours after your meal, the MMC begins. This process sweeps what is left of the food you ate along the small intestine, allowing you to absorb necessary nutrients along the way. This phase can last anywhere from 80 to 105 minutes.
  • Third, the food, mostly waste and water at this point, enters the large intestine. And when there is "enough", evacuation occurs :)


If you did the math, you noticed that it takes between 4 and 6 hours for the food you eat to be swept away into your large intestine... So why in the world is everyone saying we need to eat frequent, small meals throughout the day in order to be healthy? If you eat every 3 hours, as many experts suggest, you will never feel hunger - because your stomach will never be empty!


Another point worth mentioning: the MMC makes noise. This is what most of us refer to as a "growling" stomach. And it doesn't necessarily indicate hunger! We have all grown up hearing that when your stomach growls, it's because you're hungry, when in fact, it's just your small intestine doing a bit of housekeeping! You've barely finished breaking down the food you ate, give your body the chance it needs to clear a bit of space before the next meal come barreling down at it.

If you don't believe me, try this fun experiment I do with my students in class. Place your left hand on your stomach {just below your rib cage on the left side of your body} and place your right hand on your intestines {just below your belly button}. Now take a deep whiff of a really great smelling food. First, you'll feel a rumble begin in your stomach under your left hand... then you'll start to feel the same thing in your intestines under your right hand! It truly is a chain reaction and your bodies' way of cleaning itself out.


So what am I going to do about it? Stop snacking. I've already said goodbye to my mid-morning snack a long time ago, but I still tend to snack in the afternoon once I get off work, even when I'm not really hungry. It's more of a comfort thing, since it's a habit I've had since I was a very small child. 

I'm thinking of replacing this afternoon snack, if I really feel the urge to have one, with a nice herbal infusion. If I'm actually hungry, or if I know I'll be eating late that night, I might allow myself a fat bomb as I would imagine them to be rather easily and quickly digested.

My eating schedule will look something like this then:
  • 07:00 - Breakfast
  • 12:15 - Lunch
  • 16:30 - Snack if needed
  • 19:00 - Dinner {21:00 the nights the hubster works out}


If I don't snack, or if I only snack on the nights the hubster's at the gym, I'll have 4 to 5 hours between each meal. That sounds just about perfect for emptying my stomach out and allowing the MMC to clear away my food bits.

What are your eating patterns like? Do you ever feel hunger, or do graze throughout the day? Has this post changed the way you look at your feeding schedule any?

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