This year I’ve gone from dipping a toe into Eastern medicine on my first trip to Asia, to incorporating traditional Chinese medicine practices as part of my regular wellness routine. Approaching health from this perspective has allowed me to help remedy issues in new and exciting ways. Always searching for digestive remedies, TCM has opened a door to fresh and logical approaches that can be used year round, but are especially helpful during the holidays.
Why during the holidays? There are so many aggravators to our delicate systems that can affect digestion. This season inevitably brings about a lot of stress, which I’ve found to be one of the biggest causes of my stomach issues. From having guests in town to holiday shopping and all the other logistics, our systems may become plagued with the anxiety we take on. Another is travel, which is be dehydrating, exhausting and mean on-the-go not so digestion friendly food. Speaking of those kinds of foods…. the most obvious causes of tummy troubles can be heavy, difficult to digest holiday meals.
Before we get even more stress and anxiety over the food piece, leading to feeling even worse, let’s pause and take a deep breath. Food is not the enemy and should be a friend during the holidays. These tips are here so you can enjoy the festive treats this season has to offer, while also preparing to feel good.
TCM Tips for Holiday Meal Digestion
1. Skip the salad. Wait- did I really just say that? According to TCM, cold and raw foods can throw off digestion. Instead, opt for lightly cooked foods like the sautéed greens or roasted Brussel sprouts. Loading up your plate with veggies is always a good idea, but making more room for the cooked ones may leave you feeling better the next day.
2. Balance foods with both Yin and Yang. Cooler foods should be balanced with warming ingredients and vice versa. This typically comes into play for me with cold smoothies and juices. When you’re inclined to reach for that morning after green juice, make sure it has warming ingredients like ginger or parsley to balance it out for optimal digestion.
3. Choose your cheese wisely. According to TCM, goat and sheeps milk cheeses are warming, making them easier on our digestive systems. If you are sensitive to dairy, you may not want to experiment for the first time at a holiday party, but is worth considering when checking out the cheese plate.
4. Drink an herbal tea or better yet, some Chinese herbs for digestion after the big meal. My favorite herbal teas for digestion are chamomile, peppermint and ginger. I also love to mix a packet of the Dao Labs blend of Chinese herbs (use code ALLTHEVERDURE for 10% off) with water to “harmonize the stomach” and prevent a food hangover.
5. Prioritize inflammatory foods. This is not a time to restrict, and the holiday meal should be enjoyed, but prioritizing inflammatory foods can help prevent a full crash of your digestive system. Inflammatory foods that can cause digestive issues are: refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, dairy, fried/processed foods and red meat. How does this look from a balanced perspective? Often times if I decide to go for an extra piece of pie, I won’t have the extra glass of wine. Remember that this is coming from a digestion stand point. I never condone counting calories or being restrictive, but know how hard it can be to suffer through debilitating and paralyzing stomach cramps the day after a hard to digest meal.