5 Tips to Kick Start your Digestion
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to review the digestive tips that I shared a few years back.
It seems like this time of year rolls around so quickly, and while I am excited to shared delicious meals with friends and family, I also know that my digestion easily gets overwhelmed with too much of well, everything. Following the Ayurvedic tips below has made a tremendous difference and hopefully will for you too!
- Stay away from cold, icy drinks! Your digestion works best when heated up, metaphorically speaking like a fire, and ice cold drinks dampen the flame. Once that happens, your food doesn’t “cook” and may just sit in your belly like a rock. Simply request “no ice” when dining out, and at home, get accustomed to drinking room temperature water. It’ll quickly become a habit as start to notice the difference in your digestion.
- A strong digestive fire (AGNI) will help you to digest your food better, moving it through your system efficiently so it doesn’t turn into fat, or create a belly ache. Turn up your agni by drinking 8-12 ounces of water about 15-20 minutes BEFORE you eat, preferably with a squeeze of lemon or lime. This prepares your digestive track for food, stimulating all the necessary digestive enzymes. It is ESSENTIAL to drink your water before and not during or immediately after your meal. When you drink beverages during your meal it dampens your agni, creating bloat, gas and general discomfort. You can sip on a little water while eating if needed. Wait at least a half hour after your meal before consuming a beverage, although you can sip on hot tea such as ginger tea.
- Most people really like this suggestion: according to Ayurveda we should eat desert first! The body digests the sweet taste first. If you fill your belly with lots of turkey and stuffing, then add a piece of pecan pie, your body will naturally digest the sweet pie first, leaving everything else to sit. You’ll know when that happens by the reaction of your tummy. So, start a new tradition this Thanksgiving and serve those pies as appetizers. J Or just eat your holiday dessert alone, several hours away from any meal, which actually breaks rule number 5, below, but there are always exceptions to the rules on (Perhaps a mid –day piece of pie, instead of right before bed.)
- Finish your final meal of the day around sunset. Our bodies mirror the rhythm of nature, so our agni is actually highest at noon (when the sun is peaking), meaning we can eat more and digest better at that time. If you schedule allows, even if it’s just on the weekends, eat your largest meal of the day at lunch, followed by a lighter “supper” around sunset. I suggest a nice, savory soup during the cold, dark winter to help keep you warm and enkindle your agni. (See link to pumpkin soup recipe below.) If you finish eating for the day around sunset or shortly after, and just say no to the holiday cookies calling your name (at least a few days a week), it will be easier to maintain your weight. You’ll probably sleep better and feel lighter and more energetic in the morning.
- Now here’s a biggie. We’ve been told to eat frequently during the day to quell hunger. According to Ayurveda, most of us should stick to three meals a day, giving our bodies several hours to digest the prior meal and start to rely on our bodies’ fat stores for additional energy. In order to do this, eat a decent size lunch and be sure to have some fat and protein with each meal. If you must, have a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts for a snack.
Here are some herbal formulas that I recommend for digestion:
Triphala – Gently cleanses and detoxifies the system
Pitta Digest – for digestion that is too quick
Vata Digestion – for those who suffer from constipation, gas and bloat
Kapha Digest – for Sluggish Direction
Liver Support –Promotes proper digestion of fat and a healthy metabolism.
Stress –Ease – Helps the body and mind to adapt to stress of the holidays (or life in general)