Tips to Feel Great After Thanksgiving Dinner

Article by Dr. John Douillard.

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Here are a few great tips to make sure you feel energetic and vibrant after all that Thanksgiving food.

RecipeVegan Curried Butternut Squash Salad with Apples, Dates (from foodfaithfitness.com; Author: Taylor)

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 hottest!

According to Ayurveda, the digestion is the strongest in the afternoon 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)

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.

Be careful though, if you sit down to that table starving, you risk inhaling your food and after hours of preparation you are 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 thanksgivingcomfortably continue to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without over eating.  If you eat that same meal fast, it will hit like a rock and you will find yourself spending much of the afternoon on the couch.

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 to enjoy more food. Studies show it 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.
  • Slice some ginger into dime-sized pieces and sprinkle them with salt and a squeeze of lemon. Eat 2 or 3 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 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 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!

Bon appetite!

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References:

  1. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24838678
  2. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26627097
  3. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23826600
  4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17987447
  5. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
  6. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11324171
  7. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119587/