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How Did You Feel After Your Holiday Meal?

  Posted November 24, 2011. 

Holiday Digestive Distress 
© iStockphoto

Immunitrition has some healthful tips that will help you battle the usual digestive distress so many of us experience after holiday dinners.  Whether you binge on holiday favorites or have daily chronic digestive issues, these tips may help you feel better each and every time you eat. 


First and most importantly, give THANKS for your meal.  Giving thanks puts your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) into a "parasympathetic state" - a state of healing and nurturing rather than a "sympathetic state", which is a state of stress or "fight or flight".  Digestion halts in the presence of stress (this is a primal response), so to have optimal digestion one must be in a parasympathetic state or have an "attitude of gratitude".  Also, do NOT stand up when you eat.  SIT DOWN!  Your body will know it's at rest and it will be able to nourish you with the healthy foods you choose to consume.      


Second, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and put your fork down between each bite.  This helps you to eat slower and digest better!   We have a saying here at Immunitrition to "drink your solid foods" and "chew on your liquids".  The better the chemical (saliva and enzymes) and mechanical breakdown (chewing) that is supposed to take place in your MOUTH before you even swallow bits of food, the less your internal organs of digestion will have work further down in the digestive tract.  Also, eating with people you love and care about, who give the same love and care back to you in return, can help you to better utilize the healthy food you consume.       

Third, refrain from drinking large amounts of sugary juices, ice cold soft drinks, caffeinated/carbonated and alcohol beverages during your meal, which will interrupt your stomach's important job in digestion.  You don't want to dilute precious stomach acids and juices with too many liquids.  An exception to this would be SIPPING on a modest serving (1/2 cup) of warm bone or meat stock to aid in your digestive processes.  Stock (a.k.a. broth) is hydrophilic, meaning it brings necessary and appropriate amounts of water to the digestive tract.  Digestion is a process of hydrolysis, meaning it is a water-based physiological function, so sipping on the appropriate liquids when eating will give your digestion a boost. 


Fourth, to keep from over-eating, take very small samples of all of they yummy foods set out before you.  You will be able to savor each sample with all of the different flavors that will help satisfy your taste buds... savory, sweet, salty, sour, pungent, and bitter.  Eating SOUR foods (cultured or fermented) along with your meal, such as some   cultured veggies (a.k.a. sauerkraut), or SIPPING on some Swedish bitters or kombucha as digestive tonics, will assist in digestion.  Sour flavors (like in cultured foods, lemons, and living apple cider vinegar) help to curb sweet cravings and they will clean and ground your palate. 


Fifth, DON'T go LOW FAT!  Healthy, quality fats and oils are healthy for you and they help to flip on the satiety switch in your brain that will tell you when you should stop eating and that you are satisfied.  Healthy fats/oils also buffer and slow down the release of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream.  If you don't overeat, which can tax your digestive processes, and you add some healthy fats into your meal, you won't fall asleep after eating unless you have a little too much turkey and the amino acid tryptophan mellows you out. 


Sixth, skip the TABLE SALT and replace it with a quality brand of SEA SALT!  Table salt is a PROCESSED FOOD full of fillers and additives, not to mention the given fact that it has an INCOMPLETE mineral profile.  Conversely, SEA SALT has all macro, micro, and trace elements in the proper ratios and it will help your stomach's healthy acid expression so you digest your food thoroughly. 


And finally, eat your sweets with caution and only eat a small portion for dessert.  It's best to choose full-fat treats sweetened only with NATURAL sweeteners like honey, dried fruit, or purely organic sugar cane (Rapadura).  These sweeteners are natural, unprocessed, enzyme-rich, mineral-rich, and vitamin-rich and help to balance your body's ability to deal with sugar.  Low-fat or non-fat desserts and treats do not arm your body with healthy fats to help buffer and slow down the release of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream.  AVOID WHITE SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, POWDERED SUGAR, and ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS at all costs!  They are highly processed, chemical-laden, and anti-nutritive foods that actually STEAL nutritents from your body.  Keep in mind that too much of any sugar - healthful sources or not - is stressful to your body.  Sipping on (not gulping down) some kombucha or room temperature lemon water along with your sweet dessert will keep you from wanting more sweets.  The sour flavor works wonders.  Give it a try... it really works!  

Optimal digestive function is essential to good health.  If you are experiencing poor digestion and elimination, help is available.  A Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializes in correcting digestive issues and the underlying causes of gastrointestinal dysfunction.  Click here to find a Certified Nutritional Therapy practitioner near you.