With the holidays upon us many people will be eating quite differently then they usually do. Here are some tips to support digestion during this time:
1. Be easy on yourself
This time of year it's just more difficult to eat the way we'd like to to be healthy, and that's ok! Be easy on yourself. It happens. You may eat the thing that your tummy regrets later. The gut-brain connection to huge, and one of the best things we can do to care for our guts is to be kind, gentle and accepting of ourselves, even when we we make choices that we know don't reflect our ideals.
2. Set healthy boundaries with family
There's nothing like family for providing pressure around food. We just don't them to feel bad if we say no to their special treat, right?
We know it's hard, but accepting the love of your family doesn't need to mean accepting their food. If you know you are sensitive to gluten, dairy, sugar or something else, while knowing that it's quite possible you will slip up on this and that's ok, know that it's also ok to say no if you feel this would be best.
Consider taking this opportunity to educate your loved ones about food alternatives, perhaps by bringing along something to share that does fit your needs. You may even help expand someone else's worldview and better their health as well.
3. Use digestive bitters
One of the easiest way to promote better digestive for large holiday meals is with digestive bitters.
Bitters refer to pretty much any herb that has a bitter taste. The bitter flavor has historically been very common in the human diet, but in the U.S. many people rarely include it. Due to our evolutionary history, simply tasting the bitter flavor stimulates digestive secretions all along our GI tract. This stimulation allows us to better break down and assimilate heavy meals, lessening the chances for discomfort.
The easiest way to take bitters is to take 5-15 drops of a bitters tincture blend 5-15 minutes before a meal, or to do the same after a meal. Bitter herbs include dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and gentian. It's good to also include aromatic bitters like ginger, orange peel or angelica. Urban Moonshine makes a line of bitters available at most natural food stores.
4. Drink a warm digestive tea after the meal
One of the most enjoyable things after a large holiday meal is a warm cup of tea. The warmth helps to promote good digestion, and if the tea contains digestive herbs this can doubly help.
The herbs the are particularly best are called "carminatives." These are aromatic herbs that taste yummy and are particularly good for relieving gas and bloating. Examples include chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, cinnamon and ginger, or the classic chai tea spices. Brewing up a cup of these herbs after the meal can go a long way in preventing indigestion, and can taste so yummy!
Here's an example recipe:
These herbs are featured in our dessert tea, specifically designed to accompany dessert or to BE a dessert all on its own.
*Have caution with licorice, this may not be a good herb for some people.
5. Have herbs on hand if you need
If things really don't go well, make sure to have on hand your herbal allies that can provide relief. Best to know ahead of time what these are for you, but may include some of the following:
6. Let us know if we can help!
We work with people who experience digestive discomfort to regain well-being and to feel better. If you would like some personal guidance on supporting your digestion, be in touch! Learn more here.
Article by Nick Cavanaugh, clinical herbalist at Railyard Apothecary
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