I come from a family that loves to indulge in rich foods and drinks during the holiday season. As much as I love food (and boy do I love food!), I have to be cautious during this time of year to make sure I am keeping an eye on my digestive system. Luckily, having a sensitive digestion system has led me to study Ayurveda for its emphasis on the importance of maintaining a strong digestive fire. Ayurveda has aided me in building resilience so I can indulge in a wider variety of food. It has also given me practical tools for maintaining balance. Below you will find a few tricks I use during the holiday season:
As long as you don’t struggle with an overactive or heated digestive system (meaning symptoms like acid reflux or ulcers) ginger can be a powerful digestive herb. For a strong dose, take a 1/2 teaspoon of finely diced or grated ginger with honey, 3-4 drops of lemon juice, salt, and pepper about 30 minutes before a big meal.
Alcohol can be a big temptation during the holiday season. In many traditional preparations, alcohol is used as a digestive in the right proportions. Unfortunately, too much of it can wreak havoc on a sensitive system. Sparkling water with a few drops of bitters (I like these!) is a wonderful alternative that will stimulate digestion and not leave you feeling left out.
Though taking long naps after eating can actually cause more harm to your digestive system, a 15-minute nap on the left side can enhance the functioning of your liver and leave you feeling refreshed.
Take a break!
All the tips and tricks in the world don’t compare to bringing a mindful awareness to your own system. If you are starting to feel uneasy, take a break, go for a walk around the block, come back to your senses and check in with your digestive system. The body is highly intelligent and will communicate messages to you about what it is you need. If you are feeling triggered by a conversation, interaction, or otherwise take a break from your meal. Emotional distress also plays a large role in the function of your digestive system, and in Ayurveda we believe that the surrounding environment you are in effects the way you feel. Allow yourself some time to decompress, and remember to be kind with yourself.