Long awaited days off work are almost here… The Holiday season… Time to rest and rejuvenate, right? Not quite! Holidays even though really fun, are not as restful to our entire body as they should be. More than a month of endless corporate parties, family dinners, friends’ get-togethers can often lead to extra work for our liver, spleen, digestion, and nervous system. A few extra eggnogs and a couple of helpings of grandma’s special stuffing make favorite jeans a size too small and can lead to an after-holiday depression.
One might say that this is just a regular annual cycle of our life. Gain weight in the winter, struggle to lose it in the spring to show it off in the summer. Ayurveda says it doesn’t have to be this way. A family feast doesn’t have to lead to a bulging belly and a hangover is not a must for the day after the corporate party. This guide is for anyone who wants to make it through the holiday season without gaining any weight or loosing one’s mind. It’ll give you tips on how to avoid feeling heavy after a huge family dinner, how to support digestion, and how not to gain any unwanted weight.
Before the party:
- Keep your diet simple and light the day before the feast. Agni, the digestive power, is like any other muscle – it works better after a shot rest period. If you push yourself really hard one day, you will have less muscle strength available to you the next day. Marathoners don’t run the day before the marathon to save up the energy before a major push. Have a light meal day before the party so you digestion is strong the day of. A light meal day does not mean that you have to starve yourself. It means sticking to easy-to-digest foods and simple food combinations. A sample light day can be: oatmeal for breakfast, lentil soup with a little bit of rice and cilantro for lunch, a baked apple for a snack, a vegetable stew or another soup for dinner.
- Encourage family members and friends to set up early dinners or better yet lunches! The earlier you eat the more time your body will have to digest the food. Our digestion is the strongest during the daytime but gets weak and sluggish after the sundown.
- Bring a healthy dish, if the party is at someone’s house. Be an example for others and provide a fall back dish for yourself. Roasted vegetables, butternut squash side dishes are perfect examples.
At the party:
- Drink a glass of warm water twenty minutes before a meal. It can improve digestive function by as much as 24% because warm water will increase the blood flow to the stomach. The better your digestion, the less likely you are to feel heavy and sleepy after a meal.
- Eat when you are hungry, don’t when you are not. A simple rule but so often ignored. Ask yourself how hungry you are on the scale of 1 to 10 and keeping that in mind, help yourself to food. Do not feel obliged to finish everything on your plate. You can always take it home instead.
- Avoid cold drinks with your food. Cold drinks contract blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to the stomach which is essential for healthy digestion.
- Chew every bite and don’t compete with others on cleaning up your plate first. Focus on enjoying the flavors, colors, and the smell of food. Stay mindful of how you feel and how full your stomach is!
After the party:
- Relax for fifteen minutes after the food. John from Joyful Belly advises to guard your digestion and relax after eating. He says that after eating, blood rushes to the stomach to supply stomach glands with fluids. The food is mixed with acids and slowly digests. About fifteen minutes after eating, the food if fully hydrated and blood flow to the stomach relaxes somewhat. To ensure a proper supply of blood, rest at least fifteen minutes after eating. Avoid any strenuous exercise or difficult mental tasks like studying for two hours after eating.
- Sip detoxifying magical ginger tea. Fresh steeped ginger tea with lemon will help settle your stomach. If there is no way to get a fresh ginger root, take a few ginger tea packets with you to the party. Yogi’s tea has a huge selection of detox and digestion stimulating teas, such as Stomach Ease. Don’t forget to share it with your suffering friends!
- Help your natural detoxification mechanism. If you notice any signs of indigestion such as gas, bloating, burping, acid reflux, constipation, and feeling tired after eating, it means that you overloaded your stomach. Be kind to yourself and help the natural detoxification processes. Triphala is a wonderful age-proven science supported bowel tonic. It is not a laxative like many over the counter detox packs. It is popular in ayurveda due to its unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the system while simultaneously replenishing and nourishing it, this traditional formula supports the proper functions of the digestive, circulatory, respiratory and genitourinary systems. Tea can be another good option – any mixture of Licorice root, Cardamom seed, Fennel, Coriander, Ginger, and Black Pepper will alleviate indigestion and reduce heavy feeling in the stomach.
- Make it a light meal day the next day, if your stomach is still not back to normal. See above for details. Signs that you body is back to normal – healthy pink tongue, no swelling on your face and fingers; no heavy feeling in the stomach and a true hunger.
Share these tips with your friends and tell me about your ways to stay healthy during the holiday season.
Cheers for the Healthy Holidays!