It's that time of year again, when we all gather around the table for family, food, and lots of both. With the large quantities of delicious food comes all of our favorite after-dinner ‘activities’: bloating, cramping, exhaustion and indigestion.
We all do it. We go into the Thanksgiving weekend convinced that we can control our intake and still bask in the delicious entrees complimented by portioning and restraint. This is, of course, often not the case. Socialization and delicious turkey aren’t entirely to blame, but Thanksgiving itself is at its roots a celebration of abundance, and that celebration was designed to encourage over-consumption.
The good news is that there are a handful of tips, tricks, and nutritional hacks that can transform Thanksgiving dinner into a positive experience both during and after the meal, thereby eliminating uncomfortable indigestion. For optimized digestion, start with these five items:
- Bitters! A nice salad with bitter leaves like endive, arugula or radicchio turn on and prime your digestive tract before you hit the main course by stimulating gastric juice to be secreted. Think of it as ‘warming your engine in the winter’ but a little more organic.
- Take a digestive enzyme if eating larger meals or types of foods that you do not regularly eat.
- If you don’t have a gallbladder, you’ll need an enzyme that has bile in it (as your body isn’t producing enough on its own) to help digest this large meal.
- Serve dinner on a smaller plate. Plates have grown from 9” in the 1960’s, to a much larger 12” today. No matter what size plate we’re filling up, we’re prone to cover the entire surface – a result of psychology.
- Wait for a few minutes before going back for seconds. Take time to rest and digest. It can take up to 20 minutes for our bodies to feel that ‘full’ sensation and that’s due to our satiety hormones, cholecystokinin (CCK), insulin and leptin.
It’s a matter of conditioning our bodies and minds. Our bodies aren’t used to such significant portion sizes, caloric intake, or fat content. We overdo these in excess at Thanksgiving, and adding dessert or wine is a surefire way to hamper your digestion. It’s a perfectly normal response, but one that is best to be avoided.
Bypass the discomfort this holiday weekend, and spend the evening enjoying time with your loved ones, at ease. A few small changes to the way you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal can change the name of the game, and ultimately lead to smarter, healthier eating rituals in general!