How do you support your digestion and avoid digestive upset during the holidays? When visiting a string of office parties and family gatherings during the festive season it’s hard to stay true to your body. The abundance of rich foods and drinks offered at every party is difficult to say no to… Usually they are not the healthiest kinds of foods either. After a few of those parties your digestion can be really messed up.
If you grab a mojito as aperitif, your starter is a shrimp cocktail (I heard they are back in fashion) followed by deer stew or stuffed turkey, followed by chocolate mousse with strawberries… and all that mixed with more alcohol… Is it really that surprising then that you get acid reflux and belly bloating? Hmm, that was a rhetorical question, yes.
So how do you beat the bloat, avoid feeling lethargic, and start the new year fresh? Try these ayurvedic tricks to support your digestion during the holidays and give yourself some relief!
Be clever with what you eat
Supporting your digestion starts with choosing what you eat. Try setting an intention before you go to the party about what you will and will not eat. Visualise yourself saying no to the things you know will make your digestion upset. When offered something you know will upset your stomach, ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
Avoid combining dairy with anything
Dairy (milk, cream, cheese) and animal foods (fish, meat, seafood) is one of THE worst food combinations you can have. They are digested in a different way, they are both heavy foods, and both animal products. The easy fix? Decide whether you will eat vegetarian or one kind of animal protein beforehand and stick to your choice for the entire meal.
Avoid eating fruits with or after your meal
Eat fruits on their own or at least 2 hours after you last had a meal and 2 hours before the next meal. Eating fruits too close to your meal makes you bloated. The fruits ferment in your belly which creates gas and can contribute to yeast overgrowth. Fruits make a good light breakfast post luscious dinner the next day, but skip the fruits at or after the big dinner.
Avoid ice cream
Ice cream as dessert is a no-no. It will extinguish your digestive fire, leaving all that half digested or undigested food for your body to clean up, but not before it starts fermenting and forming gas. Eat ice cream the same way you would eat fruit – wait 2 hours before and after eating something else.
It’s hard to not overeat during these days but do try to leave a little bit of each course on your plate. Pile on the veggies! Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables. Vegetables provide vitamins and fibre, which is going to help you eliminate all the toxins from your body the next day.
Don’t drink carbonated drinks
It’s especially hard now to skip the bubbles but it’s proven carbonated drinks make you bloat. Planning to wear a tight dress or buckle that belt tightly? Skip the bubbles! That includes Diet Coke and sparkling water, yes. These kind of drinks do nothing for your digestion, and it’s better to avoid them as much as possible.
Drink lukewarm water
Avoid drinking cold water. Drink water that’s at least room temperature. Drink one cup before your meal to avoid overeating. Usually it is recommended to not drink anything between bites and after your meal, but if you do, make sure your drink is not ice cold!
What to do if you ate too much?
Uh-oh. It happened. Ate too much. Waaaay too much. *instant regret* We’ve all been there too.many.times. But what can you do when you find yourself in this situation next time? Before you grab some pharmaceuticals, try going the natural route for digestion problems. Here are some Ayurvedic home remedies for indigestion.
Drink ginger tea
Try drinking small sips of ginger tea (avoid adding sugar and honey).
Making fresh ginger tea is super simple. Boil some water in a pan and add some sliced or grated ginger. Leave it to simmer for at least 10 minutes to get a strong tea. For one cup I would use a knob of ginger at least the size of your thumb nail.
Chew fennel seeds
Eating a teaspoon of fennel seeds (a household staple in India) after your meal will also help cure indigestion. They are a bit crunchy to eat like that, but it’s very effective. And you get a fresh breath. Bonus!
Walk it off
Go for a short walk around the block to let the food settle in your stomach. Just 200 steps will already help bring some relief. More is better, but you don’t need to make it a super powerful hike – you want your bodies to spend its energy on digesting all the food.
Helpful yoga postures for better digestion
Sit in vajrasana
Sit on your knees, big toes together, your heels apart. Sit in between your heels with a straight spine. The hands resting on the thighs. This creates a lot of space in the abdomen for the organs to go through their motions. Sit in vajrasana or thunderbolt pose for 10-15 minutes.
Vata Yana Asana
This posture is especially helpful if you are bloated and have wind. The literal translation of this posture is Wind Releasing Posture.
Lie on your back. Bring your left knee to your chest and hug your knee. Stay for 5 minutes. Relax the hip so you can bring the knee closer to your chest. After 5 minutes switch the legs and bring the right knee to your chest. Stay for 5 minutes.
Purna Vata Yana Asana
Also a wind releasing posture. Lie on your back and bring both the knees to your chest. Hug your knees. Stay for 5 minutes.
I hope these tips help you support your digestion during the holidays. Let me know which of these Ayurvedic home remedies for indigestion works best for you!
Related: Read more on what ayurveda recommends in terms of food combinations