Feast like a pro: 5 tips to beat holiday bloat

Feast like a pro: 5 tips to beat holiday bloat

One too many holiday parties, Solstice soirees and New Years celebrations can take a toll on your digestive system, leaving you feeling heavy, bloated and worn out. When you sit down to celebrate, try these simple strategies to enjoy the feast without the downsides. Get your friends and family in on it too and they’ll thank you!

1. Pass the bitters

There are 5 types of tastes we can enjoy as humans: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and savory. The bitter taste, found in leafy greens and citrus, for example, has been all but eliminated from the Standard American Diet. The bitter taste doesn’t just provide variety and complexity in meals. It serves a vital function by stimulating production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid. Bitter tinctures of herbs have been used for centuries to cure digestive ailments and promote health.

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Bitters

Drink a few drops of bitters with warm water ~15 minutes before eating, or whenever you remember

TYPES OF BITTERS

  • Angostura bitters -- cheap, easy and dependable -- You can find these in any bar, grocery store and probably even in your great-aunt’s liquor cabinet.

  • Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters -- great for on-the-go -- These are in my purse at all times. They’re delicious and palatable on their own, so you can just put a few drops directly on your tongue before you eat if getting warm water is a hassle.

  • Rupam Herbals Swedish Bitters -- great addition to your home collection -- Handmade in the Bay Area based on traditional Swedish healing recipes. Very effective.

2. Calm your nervous system

If you’ve been running around baking muffins or fighting with you uncle about politics (good job, btw), take a moment to allow your nervous system to relax. When you’re stressed, your body diverts blood from your digestive organs, because it’s not a priority to digest your meal if you need to run away from a lion. If you don’t outrun the lion, who cares about that meal sitting in your stomach, right? Your uncle isn’t a lion, but to your body, he’s as good as. Deep belly breaths will help calm your system and prepare your body to digest.

If you can repeat this breath 4 times, great. If not, one cycle is better than none. Even better: get the whole table in on a round of breathing before you all dig in.

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Belly breath

Inhale for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts Repeat x 4

3. Awaken your senses

Take in all the colors of the food on your plate. Appreciate the work and love that went into creating the feast in front of you. Smell the aromas wafting into your nose. Notice the different textures of food as you put them in your mouth. Allow yourself to appreciate every bite. Bringing awareness to your food supports your digestive system to function optimally. Just smelling food while it’s cooking begins to awaken your digestive system and get your juices flowing. Our bodies are so intelligent!

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Awaken your senses

Bring awareness to the colors, smells, textures and tastes of your food

4. Shut up and chew!

Try to chew your food 20-30 times per bite. This isn’t a gimmicky weight loss strategy, it’s truly the optimal number of times you should chew your food so as not to tax your digestive system. Your saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestive process. If you don’t chew your food fully, your stomach will need more acid and more time to break it down, slowing the whole digestive process and making bloating, gas and constipation more likely.

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Chew your food

20-30 times per bite, or as much as you can manage

5. Take a walk

After your meal, rally your friends to take an easy walk around the block to bring movement into your digestive system and support the peristalsis process which moves food through your intestinal tract. Plus, it’s always nice to get outside. Yes, I live in California, so it might be a different story when it’s snowing outside ;)

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Take a walk

A short 10 minute walk will help move your digestive system along