In order to survive the impending surge of rich, heavy holiday foods, your digestive fire better be burning brightly. It determines whether your food properly transforms into healthy body tissues, or if it putrefies into toxic buildup.
The holidays are filled with hard-to-digest foods: pork, prime rib, fudge, eggnog and decadent desserts. This is the most taxing time of year for the digestive system, and if it’s weak or overloaded, toxins can quickly accumulate.
Ayurveda calls these toxins ama.
You can see signs of ama as a thick white coating on your tongue, feel it as heaviness and sleepiness after eating, or smell it as body odor.
As ama builds up it becomes reactive, mixes with various physiological aspects of the body, and causes all kinds of imbalances and illnesses. The best way to prevent ama from accumulating is to support the process of digestion.
Avoid digestive disaster this holiday season by taking these Ayurvedic tips on board.
1. Fire up your digestion with ginger.
Ginger actually stimulates the appetite. Having an appetite is a good thing– it signifies that the digestive juices are flowing and that the body is ready for food.
Make a batch of ginger appetizer by slicing fresh ginger and marinating it in a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of Himalayan salt. Eat a couple of slices before lunch and dinner to stoke the digestive fire.
2. Feast at lunch.
The digestive fire is at its strongest during lunch. This is the best time to enjoy proteins, desserts and heavy holiday foods. Gather your friends and family to feast at lunch instead of dinner and everyone’s tummy will thank you.
3. Pick one protein.
It’s hard for the body to digest more than one type of protein within the same meal. Ayurvedically speaking, tudurkens and turduckens are recipes for digestive disaster. You’ll feel a positive difference if you stick with one protein per meal.
4. Abstain from leftovers.
As food sits around it ferments and becomes heavy to digest even if it’s been kept in the fridge. Although people love to get creative with leftovers during the holidays, it’s better to avoid leftovers altogether. Cook appropriate portions so that you don’t have any leftovers to deal with. And if you absolutely must eat leftovers, do so within 24 hours of the food being cooked.
5. Hold the ice cubes.
Cold drinks douse the digestive fire– especially during cold weather season. Avoid ice cubes and instead sip on hot water or herbal tea. On boozy nights go for red wine over iced cocktails, or better yet order hot toddies.
6. Eat your food warm.
Similarly, cold food dampens the digestive fire. Eat all your meals warm and avoid eating foods straight from the fridge.
7. Chew fennel.
Fennel helps to regulate the digestive process. Chew and swallow a teaspoon of fennel seeds after lunch and dinner to prevent gas and bloating.
May your digestive fire be strong this holiday season!
(This article was also featured in Popular Lately on elephantjournal.com)