7 Ways to Soothe your Stomach this Thanksgiving
Right about now I start to feel a nervous excitement in the depths of my stomach. I expect it is a combination of last minute menu planning anxiety (planning a meal is something I could make into a full time job if given the chance) and my body’s natural defenses doing their best to prepare for the unusually large meal heading its direction.
I absolutely love Thanksgiving; the communal gathering of friends and family, the amazing food, the crisp air that nips at your fingers, nose and ears and the feeling of kick-starting the winter and holiday season festivities. However, my stomach thinks otherwise. Too much food, too many drinks, late nights catching up with family and less exercise than I always hope to get, leaves my stomach feeling more like a cement mixer than a well functioning organ.
I know I am not the only one looking for a few tips on how to better care for my body over the holidays so I thought I would share a few tips will help keep your digestive system working efficiently, your stomach feeling good and your whole body energized through Thanksgiving.
1. Think about portion size- It’s easier to say than do, I know, but do your best to eat smaller portions. Take a moment before serving yourself to think about the size of your stomach (about the same size as your fist) and then serve yourself accordingly. Eat slowly, chewing each bite and savoring the flavors of this fabulous meal. Your body will naturally feel more satiated with smaller portions if you give it proper time to start digesting your food.
2. Prime your digestive tract with a ginger cocktail– as you and your guests mingle in the kitchen waiting for the turkey to cook, try serving a cocktail made with real ginger. Ginger helps stimulate digestion and will help your body process your meal. Try simmering apple cider with cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger and serve with dark rum for a warm and spicy drink or make one of your favorite classics with real ginger ale, which you can find in the soda aisle at most markets.
3. Serve a fermented food– fermented foods, like sauerkraut or kimchi, are filled with billions of good bacteria that help your body digest foods better and absorb more nutrients. These bacteria help break down your food, and will kill any bad bacteria that could make you sick. Naturally fermented sauerkraut is a great side dish (especially when made with red cabbage) to your turkey. Find it in the refrigerated section of specialty markets or from Full Circle’s green grocery.
4. Use herbs to your advantage– herbs like parsley and cilantro are great digestive aids. Read more about the digestive benefits of parsley here. Herbs will also bring a vibrant fresh flavor to this often heavy meal. Add chopped parsley to your mashed potatoes or try roasting beet wedges and serve with a cilantro lime dressing.
5. Use spices wisely– certain spices help your body digest certain foods. Luckily, spices like cloves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and cardamom, which are common to use in savory and sweet dishes this time of year, help your body better digest foods like yams, sweet potatoes, winter squash and other sweet root vegetable varieties.
6. Go for a long walk – while the turkey is roasting, or after your dinner is complete (or both for that matter) take a long walk. This is not only a good way for your group of family and friends to spend quality time together outside, it will also stimulate the digestive process and help your body better process the food you are about to eat, or just ate!
7. Drink plenty of water– when your body is adequately hydrated you will tend to eat smaller portions. Thirst can often feel like hunger, so make sure you are adequately hydrated before eating to avoid over-consumption. Water also acts as a lubricant for your entire digestive system and helps aid the digestive and absorption processes, ensuring that all the food you eat is put to good use and not left sitting in your stomach.