It’s 6pm after Thanksgiving dinner…how do you feel?
Stuffed? Bloated? Uncomfortable? Sick?
It’s all too common to eat too much, too quickly on this much anticipated meal. The result is that infamous Thanksgiving “food coma” that we all blame on the rich food.
But is it really the food itself, or is it how we eat it?
So much of how we feel after a meal has to do with what happens after we eat.
With these tips, you’ll be able to walk away from Thanksgiving dinner feeling comfortable and satisfied.
Here are Molly’s 4 top tips to improve your digestion to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.
Tip #1: Chew Your Food. We know this sounds silly as you’re probably thinking “well, of course I chew my food”. But we mean REALLY chew your food. Ideally, your food should be almost liquid before swallowing.
Why it works: The first step of digestion is in your mouth. Not only do you physically break down your food by chewing, but the digestive enzymes in your saliva begin to chemically break down carbohydrates and proteins. The more you chew, the more you mix these enzymes with your food and kick start the digestive process.
Tip #2: Put your fork down between bites. Similar to tip #1, the idea is to slow down. While we all know that slowing down to eat is a good habit, it can be hard to put into practice (especially when we’re hungry or it’s a special meal like Thanksgiving) Getting into the habit of putting down your fork in between bites and allowing yourself to chew and swallow before picking up the fork again will help you eat slower and more mindfully.
Why it works: According the psychology of eating, slower eating means a faster metabolism. When we eat too fast, the body isn’t able to fire up digestion, absorb nutrients or correctly moderate hunger hormones to signal fullness.
Tip #3: Start with something sour or bitter. If there is any food that is naturally sour or bitter (think citrus vinaigrette, bitter greens like arugula or vegetable stalks) eat those first. Alternatively, you can create the same effect by taking 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar before eating.
Why it works: The human digestive system is triggered by sour and bitter flavors. This is because we evolved eating the bitter flavors found in nature, such as greens, barks and herbs. However, the standard palette of sweet and salty can leave the digestive system behind. Jump starting your digestive enzymes (from the stomach, pancreas and gallbladder) to help increase the effectiveness and comfort of your digestion.
Tip #4: Move a little. While you don’t want to go for a run or even a walk right after eating, a leisurely walk 30-60 minutes after a big meal has been shown to improve digestion.
Why it Works: When we eat, our blood sugar increases. This spike in blood sugar is taxing on the body’s systems. In other words, the body doesn’t like high blood sugar and has to work hard to bring it back down. One way to help use the excess blood sugars is by moving. This will allow the body to spend it’s energy on other tasks, like digesting your food.
Pick one or more of these tips to practice at your Thanksgiving table and see how much it improves your digestion during and after your meal. Which one will you be trying? We’d love to hear! Share by making a comment in the section below.