Holiday Meal Hacks
It's that time of the year; family dinners, friendly gatherings, open bar holiday parties, cupcake towers, cold weather, fuzzy sweaters...and suddenly our pants seem a little more snug, our bellies a little more large and our burps a little more loud! Don't let the holidays ruin your digestive system! Here are a few of my own personal tips to keep the belly bloat away...
1. Plan Ahead
We all know when the big one's coming, the big dinner! The day of a big meal, start out the day by drinking hot lemon water in the morning, followed by 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar, diluted in an 8oz glass of water. This practice will help keep your digestive tract strong and on point. Throughout the day, you can also drink hot ginger tea, fresh or dried, both work great at warming and strengthening your digestive system.
2. Plan of Attack
During the meal, eating strategically can help avoid digestive upset. As a general rule, if you are eating fruit at any point, it's best to have it 30 minutes before a meal. Otherwise, it will sit on top of all your heavy foods, creating a major traffic jam in the digestive tract. During your meal, eat your protein and carbs first, and your veggies last. Practice portion control, it is always best to have a pause between smaller meals, than to eat a very large one all at once. CHEW YOUR FOOD THOROUGHLY BEFORE SWALLOWING. This is often overlooked and is a major cause of acid reflux and digestive upset. Your digestion begins in your mouth, so whatever doesn't happen there, becomes the work of the internal organs, and remember, they are already over-worked during the holidays. Give them a break.
3. Avoid Cold Drinks
...at all costs! Cold drinks (and food) are often the culprit of chronic, long term digestive disorders. This is because cold constricts, like tightening a water hose where nothing gets through. Give your intestines some warmth instead. Warm drinks help open up and allow things to flow smoothly. Ginger tea, cinnamon, basil, licorice, or even just hot water with lemon are all helpful to drink before or after a meal.
4. Do Not Lay Down
...for at least an hour after a large meal. As tempting as it may seem, it's a terrible idea. Your body needs to be upright to digest properly and laying down too soon will put you at risk for acid reflux and other esophageal disorders.
5. Damage Control
If you tried your best with the above suggestions and you still feel bloated, heavy, sluggish or just plain full, try these tips:
Move - take a walk, even if its just around the house. Walking increases peristalsis, the intestinal flow in your digestive tract and can help ease the bloating.
Heat Pad - on the belly, helps to ease the discomfort. You can also put hot water in a water bottle if you don't have a heat pad.
Rub Your Belly - in a circular clockwise motion to coax the digestive flow (if you have diarrhea, counter-clockwise to detain the flow)
Ayurvedic Remedy - boil some water, add a pinch of cumin powder, turmeric powder and dried ginger and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Sip while hot. If you don't have these ingredients, you can try cinnamon, chamomile, lavender, mint or basil.
If you have digestive symptoms that don't resolve, you may have a more serious condition. I encourage you to contact your health provider if you have any concerns. I am available as well if you have questions or concerns or if you'd like to set up an appointment to get your digestive tract on track!
Stay warm and cozy, everyone...and keep that digestion flowing!