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It’s almost Thanksgiving! Here are a few tips to make sure you feel energetic and vibrant after all that Thanksgiving food.
#1: Eat When the Fire is Hot
One of the nice things about a Thanksgiving meal is that it is typically in the early afternoon–when the digestive fire burns the hottest!
According to Ayurveda, the afternoon is when digestion is the strongest and the best time to be filling the tank to capacity. So try not to have that big turkey dinner at night when the cooks have gone home and your digestive fire is the weakest. (1)
Are you a vegetarian, or just not into turkey? Try my wife’s amazing vegetarian “turkey” recipe. It has been a favorite of ours for years – many of my kids actually prefer it over real turkey! Get the recipe here.
#2: Chat and Chew
It is not a bad idea to eat a very light and balanced breakfast that day, so by the time the big meal comes, you have fully digested breakfast and are ready to fill up. If you have adapted to burning fat as your main source of fuel, fasting until mealtime can be a great way to make sure you are not exceeding your daily caloric needs.
Be careful though, if you sit down at the table starving, you risk inhaling your food! After hours of preparation, you will be stuffed to the gills in under 10 minutes. The key here is to eat slowly! Relax and dine. Force yourself to put the fork down and chat while you chew.
The more time you give yourself to chew and relax, the more your stomach will gracefully expand and allow you to comfortably continue to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without over-eating. If you eat that same meal fast, it will hit you like a rock, and you will find yourself spending much of the afternoon on the couch. Sound familiar?
Studies suggest that slow, mindful eating helps us eat healthier and lose weight. (2)
#3 – Stoke the Furnace
Use these simple tricks to jump-start digestion before your big meal:
- Drink a tall glass of water 20 minutes before starting the meal. This will pre-hydrate your stomach wall, which is lined with an acid buffer that is 80% water. The more water, the better the buffer, and the more acid your stomach will produce. Studies show doing this also helps reduce weight. (3)
- You can add a little salt and pepper to this glass of water to further stoke the digestive fire.
- Sip some ginger tea while you are eating, or sip it during the 20-30 minutes prior to the meal to stoke the fire.
- If you happen to have some trikatu (known at LifeSpa as Warm Digest) on hand, take 1 or 2 capsules with that pre-meal glass of water. If you don’t have any trikatu, slice some ginger into dime-sized pieces and sprinkle them with salt and a squeeze of lemon. Eat 2 or 3 pieces before you feast for a palpable digestive boost! (4,5,6) Our 5-spice formula, Gentle Digest, works for this as well. Look for these two in our online store.
#4 – After Dinner Tricks
There is an old Ayurvedic strategy to lie on your left side for 10-15 minutes after a large meal. This is not an all-afternoon siesta, but a short rest on the left side to allow the stomach to empty gracefully and effortlessly.
The stomach is on the left side of the belly and empties from left to right into the small intestine. By lying on the left side, you allow the stomach to hang freely and contract naturally to move the food through when it is all properly digested.
If you lie on the right side or get up too soon, the food is hurried and forced out of the stomach prematurely by gravity. This can cause indigestion and, after a big meal like Thanksgiving, it can cause some gas pains!
After your short rest on the left side (or some serious table leaning to the left) after the meal, it’s time for a nice relaxing walk. Pray for nice weather! Many studies show that a walk after a meal will lower blood sugar and support healthy weight loss. (7)
#5 – Digestive No-No’s
- Don’t drink cold or iced water with this meal!
- Take a few minutes to relax, get settled, and say some form of blessing or grace before eating. Do not start eating until you are really settled, calm and ready to eat and enjoy each bite with awareness!
- Don’t watch TV while eating.
- Don’t eat while standing up.
- Don’t pig out on bread first. It is heavy and hard to digest and before you know it, you will be full!
Most of all, make it a special time with friends and family to be grateful for all we enjoy here in the US!