December 4, 2013

10 Crazy-Easy Tips for a Digestive Makeover.


Fall and winter can be stressful months.

It is finals’ season, blizzard season and the holidays are near. With all the shopping, traveling, culinary indulgences and get-togethers, even the most Zen-like individual can experience digestive discomfort.

Does your stomach feel like a bowl full of jelly—and not in a good way?

I wanted to share a few favorite ways to get the digestive fire moving again (when said fire has, seemingly, taken a flight to Tahiti and refused to return until early May).

The first seven have been popularized by the exclusive Viva Mayr medical spa in Austria, famous for its in-house detox programs. Is a hardcore detox or a trip to Europe not in the offings?

No worries! (It’s not for me, either.)

They have a home program, which I tried recently.

“The Viva Mayr Diet: 14 Days To A Flatter Stomach And A Newer You”. It can be borrowed from libraries or purchased in bookstores or online.

I’m not in the habit of pitching, but found these digestive-stoking tips surprisingly simple, effective and mindful that I just had to share.

Again, the first seven have been taken from the Viva Mayr plan, and the last few are personal faves:

1.) Chew each bite of food 30 to 50 times. This allows food to be properly broken down by digestive enzymes instead of landing in the stomach in a fetid heap.

One will become more mindful about the food he or she is consuming, more likely to savor flavors and textures, if forced to chew what certainly seems like millions of times. This copious chewing also reduces the tendency to take extra helpings. (If you don’t become absolutely bored out of your mind doing all that chewing, you’re a better woman than I.)

2.) Don’t drink water with a meal. Water dilutes the digestive enzymes and makes digestion more difficult. (Drink water up to fifteen minutes before a meal and an hour after.)

3.) But you may sip a small glass of wine (one glass!) with dinner. Yay! There is something in wine that helps food to digest. I love Europe! Who would have known?

4.) Drink a large glass of hot water with lemon upon waking in the morning, at least an hour before breakfast. This delightful concoction will flush out gunk that accumulates overnight. It feels amazing!

5.) Dinner should be the smallest meal of the day and should be consumed before 7 p.m. Nothing raw should be eaten after four p.m. Late night eating can hamper digestion and contribute to insomnia. Have you ever had a dream where you were being chased by purple dinosaurs and garden gnomes? I have, and maybe it was all those 11 p.m. salads.

6.) No snacking in between meals! What would it feel like to never have a day off in 30-plus years? Hello, digestive system! It’s no wonder you’re cranky.

7.) Try to eat in a pleasant, quiet, calm environment, if possible. Reschedule that business lunch meeting with difficult clients. Turn off FOX News. Take only emergency calls on the cell. And, there will be no wolfing down of burgers, fries and burritos in the car. Sorry about that.

8.) Try Viparita Karani or a spinal twist in the evening before bedtime. These yoga poses are simple, relaxing and twist the gut in all sorts of beneficial ways.

9.) Try this Ayurvedic stomach massage technique—I learned this once in a seminar and I love it: soothe a discontented tummy by lying on the back and applying light pressure while tracing a circle over the abdominal region. Do this for several minutes.

10.) Express yourself creatively. The sacral chakra is the site of human creativity. Human beings hold a lot of tension in the abdomen. Blocked up? Find a way to express yourself creatively this holiday season, especially if you feel frazzled or have deal with ‘challenging’ personalities with a smile. Write! Paint! Dance! Sing!

Not so bad, right? It takes a bit of a shift to embrace a less-is-more philosophy, but I love the results. I am much less likely to eat mindlessly or eat to the point of incapacity at social functions.

As an American, it almost seems like a badge of honor to wolf down meals quickly and unconsciously wherever and whenever. He with the most heartburn wins, right? Who has time to eat? we want to say, hoovering whatever we can find at our desks and in front of our televisions.

We are gustatorily (is that a word?) impoverished. The experience of connecting with friends or loved ones over a savory meal is one of the most basic of human pleasures.

Yes, there were drawbacks. My dining companions wandered away while waiting for me to chew. Sometimes they fell asleep. I had to give up my nightly bowl of popcorn. I had to get up earlier in the morning to drink the lemon water. My stomach was growly at times. Overall, it has been a rewarding experience.

Does anybody have other digestion tips? I’d love to hear them!


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

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