Indulgence is a joy in life we're fortunate enough to partake in every so often. Unfortunately, for most of us, sensory delight in the present usually means digestive discomfort later.
Today we are specifically addressing overindulging during mealtimes. Whether you are an emotional-eater, on vacation, or celebrating an event, these tips and tricks will aid you into relief.
Although this brunch (Seville, Spain) was SO delicious, I cannot deny the drowziness, and bloating that followed.
#1. LESS IS MORE
If you feel sleepy after eating, this tip is for you:
Eat until you are ~75% full. I know how difficult it is to resist your mom’s homemade eggplant parmesan, trust me, but I promise it is for the best.
Most of us cannot even identify what it is like to feel 75% full. We know 100%... we know 200%.. But certainly not ~75%. It takes practices and requires you to consider the amount you are consuming.
This is what Susan Dopart, RD, has to say on this matter: “It takes sometimes 15-20 meals to reset the muscle memory of the stomach to get used to less food and people need to trust that will happen. Most are used to eating until full, which is past satiation and which keeps weight on.”
This isn’t an alien concept; in fact, it is rooted in Japanese Okinawan tradition. For those that do not know, this is a population of people that have the highest life expectancy in the world.
#2. CHEW YOUR FOOD
If you experience bloating after your meals, consider this:
Digestion begins with the mouth during the pre-digestion phase. Your saliva contains digestive enzymes which begin the breakdown of the food in your mouth. Additionally, when we chew, it signals our GI tract to simulate HCL production. This is essential for proper digestion. When we don’t chew our food properly, it makes it significantly more difficult for digestive fluids to break down the compounds.
How much to chew? Ideally, we want to homogenize the contents in our mouth (i.e. chew until everything is about the same consistency)
If you experience nausea, cramping, or stomach pains after eating, try this:
Our bodies are designed to digest when we are in an upright position. Therefore, avoid lying down immediately after eating.
Now, when you retire to bed after eating a hefty meal, lay on your left side. This is for a few reasons:
Supports bile release
Reinforces the clockwise direction of digestion
Reduces hyperacidity (i.e. heartburn)
Allows stomach and pancreas to hang naturally, allowing for optimal and efficient digestion
#4. AVOID ICE
America is one of the only places on the planet that serves ice in so many beverages. Ice wreaks havoc on your digestion.
Like all chemical reactions, when we add heat to a process, it speeds up. This holds true for our digestive processe. When we eat/drink extremely cold foods/drinks, our digestion loses temperature and becomes iufficient.
Then, our body has to exert a remarkable amount of energy to re-heat the contents up to temperature before it can even be digested.
Stick to room temperature or warm foods/drink to ensure easeful digestion.
#5. STAY CALM
My handsome fiancee, during breakfast in Portugal. We ate Muesli with fresh fruit every day.
Eating when emotionally unstable is a recipe for digestion issues. I think most of us can sense this, however, may not understand exactly why.
When we get angry, scared, or upset, we trigger our sympathetic nervous system (aka our Fight or Flight response). This is a mechanism controlled by our nervous system which releases useful hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This response is necessary for our survival. That being said, we do not want to trigger this response when we eat. This is because, when our ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism is triggered, other functions are depressed, including the digestive system.
The last thing our body is concerned with during ‘high-stress’ moments is eating. We suppress various functions during these times so we can divert our energy accordingly.
I often suggest to my clients, to take 3 long breaths before meals. Take a moment to eat with a calm mind.
#6. SIP HOT TEA
If your experience bloating or gas after a meal, drink a cup of hot lemon water. Even when eating ‘out’, this is super accessible.
It is not ideal to drink a lot of fluids until ~1 hour after eating, so take little sips and drink slowly. This will work wonders. For the benefits of lemon water, read my earlier post: 7 Reasons to Drink Lemon Water in The Morning.
If you are at home and have a larger tea selection, ginger and peppermint tea are great choices.
#7. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
Most of you probably don’t travel with a complete spice rack... Lucky for us, pepper is available in pretty much every household and restaurant.
Pepper, will do WONDERS for your digestion. It's a warming herb and digestive aid (dipana).
Eating something with a lot of sodium? Saucy? Cheesy? Add a healthy dose of pepper to give your digestion the boost it needs to get the job done.
If you are somewhere with more options, consider the following cooking herbs:
Carminative Herbs (Dispels Gas): Ginger, Coriander, Cardamom, Peppermint, Allspice, Fennel, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Chamomile
Herbs for Bloating: Garlic, Mint, Ginger, Caraway, Chamomile, Fennel, Turmeric, Mustard Seed, Cumin
Herbs for Heartburn: Basil, Dill, Parsley, Thyme, Tarragon, Mint, Cilantro, Cardamom, Cumin, Saffron
#8. AVOID FOOD COMBINING
Take this one with a grain of salt. This suggestion is for those wanting to reboot heir digestion or prepare for a cleanse.
Different foods are digested at different rates. When we combine fast-digesting material (sugars) with a slow-digesting material (protein), it causes a "traffic jam" in your digestive tract, leading to digestive consequences (i.e. gas, bloating, and indigestion).
Although there isn’t a scientific study to support the positive effects of food combining, it has been a tradition in many traditional medicine modalities for thousands of years.
Rule of thumb:
Avoid ‘mixed meals’: combining fat, carbs, and protein
Avoid eating fruit with other foods; try to eat on an empty stomach
Avoid combining starch and proteins
Avoid combining starches and acidic foods
Avoid mixing dairy products with other foods, try to eat on empty stomach.
I know this ruins pretty much every single meal you eat… even I don’t follow food combining down pat. I do, however, follow these combination rules if my digestion needs a reset.
BEFORE YOU GO
We're so incredibly particular with most aspects of our lives; however, I feel our food choices are not often a priority.
Empower yourselves. Ask questions and inquire about your food choices. Consider the food you are eating, does it make you feel good? Energized? Sleepy? Heavy?
Find the culprit. Unless you’re visiting a Health Practitioner, you will probably have to do the investigative work yourself.
Are you spicing your meals?
Do you eat too quickly?
Do you chew your food?
Do you eat with a calm mind?
When you experience gas, bloating, or indigestion, do you drink a cup of hot tea?
Are you combining too many different types of food-types?
Interested in a completely specialized lifestyle program for you? Let's work together!