Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo—even when you adhere to your diet and eat the foods that are right for your body, Thanksgiving has a way of charming people into overindulging a bit. And that’s okay.
Here are a few ways to help you recover from any digestive difficulties you might eat your way into.
Brewed into bubbly beer or boiled into tea, ginger is one of the simplest ways to get your taxed digestive system up and running. A fiery food with muscle relaxant properties, ginger helps relieve the bloating, gas, and cramping that results from GI spasms.
If your stomach feels “hot,” and it needs calming instead of invigoration, try an infusion of mint. Fresh or dried, mint makes an excellent stomach-cooling tea—just let it steep longer if you’re using fresh herbs. A touch of honey can make it go down that much easier.
Mild and somewhat licoricey, fennel tea is a post-meal favorite. It reduces inflammation and GI spasms, and it even has mild antibacterial properties.
Or try mukhwas, the colorful candy-coated seeds you find in Indian restaurants. A flavorful digestive aid, they’re a mouth-freshening minty mix of anise, fennel, and sesame seeds. They’re available in specialty stores, or try making your own. This recipe contains flax seeds, packing a healthy punch of omega-3s.
4. Digestive enzymes
From papaya to pineapple to porcine pancreatic(!) extract, enzymes pack a potent punch. Helping the body digest excess proteins, these prevent food from stagnating in the stomach and may even help reduce inflammation in the body. Check out brands like Jarrow and Thorne for trustworthy options.
5. Digestive bitters
Sometimes a sour stomach needs bitters to soothe it. Bitters—usually made from herbs like fenugreek, gentian, or dandelion—help restore your stomach to healthy pH and support the liver and pancreas in their digestive duties.
If you want bitters with a bit more kick, try shooting back a bottle of Underberg’s aromatic bitter digestif. Like the bottle says, use “After a good meal/to feel bright and alert.”
6. Baking soda
The old fallback that’s sure to be in your cabinet already. Just add ½ tsp to half a glass of water to counteract stomach acid, help the stomach digest food and move it into the colon, and to avoid the gassiness that can result from slow digestion.
7. Chinese patent herbs
A vial full of teeny, tiny herbal pills is all it takes to put a stop to bloating, nausea, or prolonged fullness. A mix of roots, herbs, and beneficial mushrooms, po chai can also be used to reduce the effects of hangovers.
Shen ling bai zhu san
Packed with ginseng, cardamom, licorice, and helpful mushrooms, these pills help with feelings of fullness, ominous stomach rumblings, and diarrhea. If you look at your tongue and it’s covered with a thick, white coating, these pills are definitely worth a try. The mix of herbs improves fluid metabolism and stimulates the intestines to absorb more water.
So even if your self-discipline gets a little lax for a day or two, there are ways to bounce back from your indiscretions. You’ll be back on track in no time, and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for the next round of holiday celebrations coming up in December.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.