As women, we want to make the holidays special for our families. We celebrate with favorite traditions and are open to trying new ones. We carve out time to draw close to Jesus during Advent. And there’s just no getting around it — many of our celebrations involve food.
From seafood chowder to pumpkin pie, buckeyes to eggnog — so many goodies are part of our celebrations. As much as I love holiday food, over indulging can leave me feeling stuffed or on a sugar high with an upset stomach to boot. Rather than telling you to not eat holiday goodies, which will never work, I’ve got a few suggestions to help us rest and digest.
Be Mindful of Your Food
This may seem like a simple solution, but it has the potential to switch your body from your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This makes all the difference in your digestion. One slows or even stops digestion. The other stimulates it.Probably most of us have eaten a meal while we were extremely stressed (sympathetic). Eating in this state of mind slows your digestion to a crawl. That’s why if you’ve eaten a meal with someone you’re very angry at, your stomach hurts afterwards.
On the other hand, if you eat slowly and mindfully, your body digests its food as it should — and you enjoy it a lot more too.
How To Rest & Digest This Holiday Season
To put and keep yourself in the parasympathetic state, try some of the following simple but effective suggestions.
- Before diving in to your food, take the time to say grace and bless the food as you give thanks for it.
- Sit down and eat at the table with your loved ones. No electronics.
- Take several deep belly breaths before you eat. This puts you in the parasympathetic state.
- Take a breath through your nose and smell your food. which starts the digestive process.
- Chew thoroughly. Don’t gulp.
Add Carminative Herbs to Help with Digestion
Now, we’ll consider some herbs that can help with digestion as well. Carminatives are herbs that improve digestion, dispel gas, ease bloating, and can help with nausea. Here are some examples:
Fennel, cardamom, anise, cumin, coriander, caraway, dill, juniper, nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, peppermint, chamomile, catnip, lemon balm, holy basil, savory, oregano, bee balm, Angelica root, and elecampane.
How To Use Carminative Herbs
- Season your food with carminative herbs. Depending upon your recipe and the flavor profile you want, add any of the carminative herbs to your cooking. I bet you use some of these already, like cinnamon, black pepper, dill, and oregano.
- Drink a cup of tea right after your meal.
- Chew some fennel seeds.
Drinking a cup of peppermint tea after a meal can help with digestion. Use 1 tsp dried (or to taste) peppermint leaves to 8 oz just-off-the boil water. Steep for about 5-8 minutes. Strain and drink.
Concern: Large amounts of peppermint may bring on heartburn in individuals susceptible to it.
Drinking a cup of ginger tea can help with nausea and other digestive upsets. Slice a 1-inch slice of fresh ginger root and steep for about 8 minutes. Strain and drink.
Concern: Ginger has blood-thinning effects. If you take blood thinners, consult your doctor. It is also an emmenagogue. It may increase menstrual flow of those with already heavy cycles.
Chewing a few fennel seeds can relieve stomach cramping. You can also drink fennel as a tea. Crush 1 tsp. Of fennel seeds, pour hot water over and let steep for 5-8 minutes. Strain and drink.
Concern: Fennel is very safe for people of all ages.
Examples of prepackaged tea (these are affiliate links of teas I like).
This year let’s enjoy making the holidays special for our families — and make sure we stay in the healthy state of rest and digest.
Do you have a favorite tea or other way you stay healthy during the holidays? We’d love to hear what you do! Leave us a comment.