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, afternoon is when digestion is the strongest, and that’s 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.
>> 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 to 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 overeating. If you eat that same meal quickly, 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.
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 percent water. The more water, the better the buffer, and the more acid your stomach will produce. Studies show doing this also helps reduce weight.
>> 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 (or, as I like to call it, “Warm Digest”) on hand, take one or two 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 two or three pieces before you feast for a palpable digestive boost.
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 a Thanksgiving feast, 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.
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 before eating. Do not start eating until you are really settled, calm, and ready to eat and enjoy each bite with awareness.
>> 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 that we enjoy here in the United States.
Mindful Bonus with Waylon Lewis and Dr. Douillard:
Relephant Thanksgiving videos:
Author: Dr. John Douillard
Images: Flickr/Satya Murthy
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Waylon Lewis