Holiday feasting is well under way. Here are a few tips to help you prevent, troubleshoot or minimize the aftermath of holiday (over) indulgence.
Before you eat. Help stimulate your digestive organs to promote smooth flow and digestion (break down) of your meal.
- Bitter Herbs. The bitter properties of certain herbs contribute to their capacity to stimulate and support digestion. Tasting the bitterness of the herb triggers a response from the vagus nerve. This sends a signal downstream to the digestive organs to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes. Certain bitter herbs support the secretion of acid in the stomach and promote the function of the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas. Take 15-30 drops 15-20 minutes before your meal. It is important not to dilute them too much as this will diminish their therapeutic benefit. I like St.Francis Canadian bitters, it is available at most health food stores. This product is not suited for everyone, be sure to contact your healthcare provider before beginning to take it.
While your Eat. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain notifying it that you are satiated. Consuming a large volume of food in less than 20 minutes often results in overconsumption. Try some of the suggestions below to give your brain some time to catch up with your body.
- Put your fork down between every bite.
- Chew your food at least 20-25 times.
- Bring attention to the smell, the texture and the taste with every bite.
- Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid before, during and after your meal. It will dilute your stomach acid leading to the prolonged breakdown of your food and slowed transit through the digestive system.
- After you have finished your first plate take a five-minute break or take ten deep breaths.
After your meal. To minimize bloating and gas chew on a few fennel seeds. Fennel seeds' carminative effect help to increase gastric emptying and expel gas from the gastrointestinal tract. If you are prone to reflux try these natural alternatives to help soothe burning and irritation.
- Licorice tea or deglycyrrhizinated licorice tablets (DGL). Licorice helps to soothe irritation in the gastrointestinal system. It has also been shown to help produce mucus which can protect the stomach lining and esophagus from acid. Take one tablet after meals. Caution in pregnancy.
- Skip the mint. For those of you reaching for the candy cane ice cream, ovations or after eights, unfortunately, the combination of mint and chocolate has been shown to relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). This is the structure that separates the esophagus from the stomach. If it is relaxed there is a higher likelihood gastric juices from the stomach can leak into the esophagus leading to reflux and burning symptoms.
- Snooze upright. Although the meal may have induced a food coma, if you are susceptible to reflux, do not nap laying down. If you must nap, prop yourself up!
Happy holidays and happy feasting,