Be Unconventional – Stop Drinking with Your Meals

Digestion is super important for health, staying slim, and mental wellbeing.  Without proper digestion many discomforts can be born into the body – indigestion, heart burn, irritability, bloating, lethargy, headaches, insatiable cravings, inability to determine true hunger, and depression.

Now imagine that you are doing something every single day that unknowingly is causing one or more of these symptoms!  Wouldn’t you want to know what that was?

Have you thought about what you drink and how much you drink with your meals?

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When you digest foods without complications, the feelings of happiness, contentment, clarity, optimism, and lightness appear in your body. To maximize those wonderful feelings it is really important to understand how drinking can effect digestion.

When I go out to eat, it’s usually the same old story – The waiter or waitress comes by with a big jug of really cold ice water and serves the table.  This is standard and conventional practice – even if you don’t order a drink, you’ll usually always get a huge glass of ice cold water. Most restaurants across America and elsewhere do this every single day without a second thought. This is the first big mistake for digestion.

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Don’t drink cold water with your meals.

When several studies were published about how consuming cold water increases your metabolism a few years ago, you could literally hear the ice plumping into glasses across the country.  People thought – “Wow, if I just drink cold water all day, I can lose weight!” – well this bit of wisdom is a double edged sword. While drinking cold water does speed up your metabolism (about 4 extra calories per 8 ounces of water), it does so by using energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature. This diverts energy that should be used for digestion.  When you are eating, you want all your energy directed at breaking down food so your body can easily assimilate the nutrients and eliminate waste. When you have bad digestion – you could actually gain weight in the long run, because toxins can be built up in your digestive organs which can inhibit the bodies ability to breakdown fat, cause insatiable cravings and mess with your body’s ability to determine if you are full or not.

The second big mistake I see – is people getting refill after refill of liquids while eating.  Using the liquids to literally aid in gulping down huge amounts of inadequately chewed foods. Sometimes, drinking the equivalent of 24 ounces of liquid during the meal.

Don’t drink liquids with your meals.

Drinking liquids during your meal dilutes your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and stomach acids which makes it harder to breakdown food. Stomach acids are dissipated with the act of consumings liquids with solids because water is excreted faster than solids.   If you are chewing adequately (creating saliva), you should be able to eat comfortably without lots of liquids.  Allow your saliva to naturally help you swallow your food.

Drink water or other liquids 20 mins before you consume food and wait at least an hour after.

Focus on hydrating yourself between meals vs. during. You’ll still be adequately hydrated throughout the day with this method and allow your food to be digested without complicating matters for your stomach and intestines.

If you must drink with your meals, sip on a warm beverage.

Good options are room temperature water with lemon or herbal tea – the temperature will be closer to your body’s normal heat and ease digestion vs disrupting it. Ginger is my favorite type of tea to drink with or after meals because it naturally moves food from the upper part of the digestive tract into the lower. At home I just cut up a few pieces of fresh ginger and pour hot water over it.  On the go, I always carry these tea bags with me… When we were in Asia last summer, ginger tea was a standard on menus – I wish all restaurants here had it available too. (YogiNumi, and Traditional Medicinals are my favorite digestive teas.)

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I can’t wait until our eating rituals here in the modern world start to better align with healthy and nutritious practices of eastern medicine which these principles are founded.

You have the powerBe unconventional and you just may start a trend to drinking more thoughtfully and healthfully.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic. Do you know someone who could improve their digestion by following this habit? If so, please share this information with them. Are you guilty of guzzling down your food with big glasses of water? Don’t feel bad and don’t be shy, I used to a long time ago too.

Here’s to drinking thoughtfully all week long!

Food Babe

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108 Responses to “Be Unconventional – Stop Drinking with Your Meals”

  1. Deanna

    I have also read that you should drink a large glass of water before every meal. What are your thoughts on this idea?

    Reply
    • Thafero (to Deanna)

      I’ve herd that too and i believe it’s a good idea – also gives you a ‘feeling of fullness’ preventing you to over eat; and considering the length of time before you eat…should be okay.

      Reply
  2. recyclebayt

    As a child, I was always warned not to drink even water while having meals. It was almost like a tradition followed in back home, in Tamil Nadu and as you said this habit has improved my digestion a lot. I would recommend drinking warm water after meals in order to improve digestion, and if possible, water boiled with some cumin seeds. :)

    Reply
  3. Greg

    20-30 minutes before and 1 hour afterwards is just what I practice. Every now and then I slip up, because I drank with meals growing up. Once I came across this information I made the change, and it has made a big difference!

    Reply
  4. Greg

    I’ve experienced that If you hydrate before and after meals, you won’t feel thirsty during your meals.

    Reply
  5. Sherra Kinder

    You taught me something again Vani! Thanks for this insight. I had drank the ice cold water too…couldn’t tell a big difference, but I guess it helped a lil. I manly drink milk or water now (sometimes sweet tea-yes, not ideal- or juice). Regardless though of the beverage, I am glad to know how to drink anything more thoughtfully. It makes sense that it would be harder on the system because it dilutes the enzymes down. I hate I hadn’t heard this before as I do have tummy troubles sometimes and this year diagnosed w Gastritis. I will definitely be trying this starting tomorrow and hoping it helps with some of my symptoms! Thank you again for all you are doing!!!! Sincerely, Sherra from TN

    Reply
  6. Rebekah

    This makes a lot of sense but what about soups, smoothies, and juices? Wouldn’t they have the same effect on stomach acid?

    Reply
    • Kristy (to Rebekah)

      I had the same thought especially regarding soups. Would be curious to know what food babe can tell us about that.

      Reply
      • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Kristy)

        Soups and smoothies are fine because they have nutrients and fiber for your body to digest.

      • Kristy (to Assistant to Food Babe (Krista))

        Sorry, I still don’t understand this. I thought the point was that water dilutes your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and stomach acids which makes it harder to digest food. So, just because a food has nutrients or fiber for our bodies to digest doesn’t explain to me how the water in soups and smoothies is not inhibiting the digestion of those nutrients and fiber…but for any other food it does. I can understand it more with smoothies because you are already making the foods easier to digest through the process of blending the food, but for soups that have whole pieces of vegetables, pasta, etc., I’m still unclear. It seems too that, with the example of smoothies, you should be able to simply chew your food very well before swallowing and still drink water and it would be the same thing.

      • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Kristy)

        Drinking too much water interferes with the natural levels of acids in the stomach but with smoothies or soups, the stomach acids actually start working so that is good. It does help if you remember to chew your soups – this will help stimulate digestive enzymes. Because there are nutrients in the soup – your body won’t be wasting the beneficial stomach acids and digestive enzymes! They will be put to work in the right way! Hope this clears it up for you.

  7. farmer_liz

    If I feel like a drink during a meal I have something fermented, like ginger ale or kefir, at least then I am adding to digestion rather than taking away. Great article food babe!

    Reply
  8. Christina

    I have in-laws that HAVE to drink something while they are eating, and sadly it’s usually diet soda or kool-aid. They always looked at us funny, because my family does not usually drink anything while we are eating. I’ve even been asked before, “You don’t want something to drink? How do you do that, how do you swallow your food?” BECAUSE I STOP AND CHEW MY FOOD, NOT INHALE IT! Is what I’d like to say, but I was raised better than that, and just smile and say no thank you. Your article was spot on Food Babe!

    Reply
    • angela (to Christina)

      Eating away from home always has its challenges. I just try to focus on the positive social interaction as I struggle with my kids telling them soda is Bad while everyone around them consumes it.

      Reply
  9. angela

    We usually only drink water (no Ice) with meals at this time but I think I will try change this. I think I will start by using small glasses at first. The most difficult thing is trying to coordinate drinking 20 min. before meals. Maybe I can assign one of the kids to this task of hydrating the family before meal time. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    How do you feel about prunes? The forgotten digestive aid?

    Reply
    • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to angela)

      Funny that you mention prunes…Food Babe just posted this on Facebook Monday!

      I know I’m not 80 years old yet, but I love PRUNES! They are like candy to me. One thing to consider, if you love prunes too, is to choose organic because the USDA pesticide program found 12 different pesticides on “dried plums” a.k.a prunes. (4 of them carcinogens and hormone disruptors, 3 of them neurotoxins and 1 of them reproductive toxins.) FYI – Here are the two organic brands that I love:

      Made by Nature: http://amzn.to/18ZRRQF
      Newman’s Own: http://amzn.to/19XqB2W

      Reply
      • Danibug (to Assistant to Food Babe (Krista))

        Thank you, Krista for that information about the prunes. I love prunes, too and also eat them like candy. Prior to your post, I bought whatever was on sale, but now I see I need to be more intentional about my particular prune purchase (alliteration intentional).

        Dani

  10. Bruce Bevitz

    Where is the scientific basis for all of this. Does California have bad air that rots the brain? You people are whacked out! Must be too much weed.

    Reply
    • Lindsey (to Bruce Bevitz)

      Vani lives in North Carolina…? You must be new around these parts. She’s changed my life. If you’d pay attention, she could yours too. :) If not, good luck with your not so funny sense of humor.

      Reply
      • Mike (to Lindsey)

        Actually, I agree with Bruce’s comments on scientific evidence. However, I have also noticed benefits from increasing the amount of raw food I eat, green smoothies, etc. Common sense about eating, as best captured by Michael Pollan (Eat food, not too much, mostly plants), is what I tend to tell folks. Of course there is much more behind his statement that one needs to understand. But back to Bruce – why does there seem to be such a paucity of good, scientific research into these things? The whole movement would benefit by it, and would draw in the fence sitters and skeptics. Granted, I haven’t dug into it too deeply, and aside from The China Study and a couple of other sources, don’t really have much to go on. But it is something that needs to be addressed. Bruce, although I appreciate your position, before you close the door on what is being offered by people like Food Babe, maybe try adding in a green smoothie each day, or increasing you intake of whole foods/raw foods to see how your body responds. You might be surprised.

  11. Heather

    Food Babe, you said Yogi is one of your favorite digestion teas but upon reading the ingredients in the lemon ginger tea there were natural lemon flavor and no mention of ginger. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Heather)

      Hi Heather – the link is to Yogi Ginger Tea which has Ginger Root, Lemongrass, Licorice Root, Peppermint Leaf and Black Pepper.

      Reply
  12. Gary

    I’m an energetic 70 year old guy. For many years now my breakfast consists of two toasted slices of Brownberry Health Nut Bread and a 12 oz glass of “Original” V8 Vegetable Juice with some “I can’t believe It’s Not Butter” margarine on the toast. I know the margarine has a small amount of saturated fat – but less than half the amount of butter. Then, I finish off with two mugs of Caribou Medium Roast Coffee (equivalent to four cups of coffee) which I sip as I read the morning newspaper. It seems to have served me well over many, many years as I don’t look or feel my age. Any comments?

    Reply
  13. David

    This article is nonsense from beginning to end. There is no scientific evidence but superstitious beliefs in this article to support the claim. Indeed your body needs water during meals to properly digest food.

    Reply
  14. Frank

    If I had to pick one thing about this article that I see as a weakness, it’s that it doesn’t go far enough. Too many people are just drinking too much water! I see it all around me. I try to avoid drinking water during daylight hours, which I believe is a sign of weakness and leads to ill health and an imbalance in naturally occurring digestive enzymes. These enzymes are generally created during sleep and are busy digesting food during the day. So it is better to not drink any liquids at all during the day. Also, I find that optimum health requires matching every glass of water that I drink with a half a glass of kefir (or other fermented beverage) and a half a glass of apple cider vinegar diluted in a gallon of water. But the trick is only to follow this regimen five days out of seven. On weekends, one should not drink at all. Usually by Monday morning, you’ll feel a bit “backed up”, but that’s just part of the cleansing process.

    Reply
    • Matt (to Frank)

      Don’t drink water all day during the weekdays and don’t drink water at all on the weekends. That’s some great advice!

      Reply
      • JT... (to Matt)

        LOL…and don’t worry about having no energy, being backed up, headaches, bodyaches, etc. on monday, that’s just the cleansing process.

        Worst….Advice….Ever

  15. Vlad He

    I’m a little bit confused, in the Post ” Do you know what’s in your tea” you said that the Yogi brand tea has natural flavors, which by the way you talk against them and it also has pesticides. In this post you said that your 3 favorite tea brands were, “Numi”, “Traditional Medicinals” and “Rishi

    But now you put Yogi , Numi and traditional medicinal as one of your Favorites teas.

    Can you explain?

    Reply
  16. Brian

    If I should not drink when I eat, how can I take medication that requires that it be taken with food?

    Reply

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