We have all had them from time to time. Yep, that terrific tummy ache, indigestion, flatulence and bloating. Ouch! There is nothing pleasant about any of these!
But there are some wonderful holistic solutions to give you relief. In fact, if you follow these tips at mealtime during your day, week and month, you will be “tummy terrific” and pain free. Since I have experienced some of these symptoms years ago and have now eased my way toward healing, I will make it as simple and easy for you to follow:
Tip #1 – Find a quiet, relaxing place to eat. No distractions. None. No cell phone, tablet, no music, no TV, …just you and your plate of food. Eat slowly and actually taste each spoonful of food so you can enjoy all of the flavors. While eating together (with family/friends) during dinner may be a truly communal and enjoyable experience, spend time enjoying the conversation and the smell and tastes of the food. No chugging it down, savor it all.
Tip #2 – Do not drink water or beverages WITH your meals. Many people may disagree with this advice. According to the holistic principals of Ayurveda, drinking water before, WITH, or soon after your meal dilutes your Agni (your digestive fire…ability to digest your food). Ideally, you want your stomach and small intestine to do the work to break down your food and mix it with acid and enzymes to further this process. Drinking water before, during and shortly after your meal impedes this process. You should only drink water when you are truly thirsty, and preferable in between meals. And more importantly, don’t drink COLD beverages. Let them sit at room temperature before you sip.
Tip #3- Limit wine/alcohol with your meal. While wine aficionados will often pair wine with food, remember that wine (and other alcoholic beverages) do contain a lot of sugar which can impede the digestion process plus elevate your blood sugar level.
Tip #4 – Warm food or slightly cook it slightly before you eat it. Eating RAW food is not right for everyone, especially for those with weak digestive ability (poor agni in Ayurvedic terms). While raw foods (veggies, fruits) provide excellent nutrients and nutrition, they can only do that if your stomach and small intestine are actually able to break down the foods into liquid form with ease.
Tip #5 – Chew your food 100 times. Okay 75-80-90 is probably okay too. The point is, you must chew it well. This gives your digestion a great start because as you chew, your salivary glands moisten the food so that it can be easily combined with digestive juices from your stomach and begin the process of digestion. Plus, chewing your food actually allows you to TASTE your food and its flavors more completely.
Tip #6- Consider taking a daily probiotic to help replace the good (friendly) bacteria your gut may be missing. Your gut typically has 30-40 different strains of bacteria (under good conditions), but illness, poor food choices or medications can alter that number dramatically. Purchase a multi-strain probiotic from your local health food store. Your tummy will thank you later!
Tip #7- Eat your meal/food until you are only 70% full. Your stomach and intestine have a big job to do. It takes a good amount of energy and time for your body to break down solid food to liquid form so that the vitamins and nutrients can be transported by your blood through your circulatory system to your organs. If you are eating healthy, nutritious foods, your digestive system will work more efficiently being only 70% full.
Tip #8- If you are occasionally suffering from indigestion, heartburn or bloating, consider eating a small amount of ginger root, licorice root or mint before your meal. All of these herbs provide calming digestive qualities. They are natural and work gently throughout your system. Say NO to antacids which will only exacerbate any chronic digestion problems.
Tip #9- Consider doing a gentle detox (and colonic) periodically in order to cleanse and rest your digestive system. Some detoxes are liquid-only, which enable your digestive system to take a hiatus from having to break down solid food. Avoid any foods which you seem particularly sensitive to. For those who might suspect food allergies or food sensitivities may be the culprit to your topsy turvy tummy problems check out the Elimination Diet. Many chronic stomach and digestion ailments can simply be resolved by eliminating certain foods from your diet. Colonics can be especially helpful to clear out undigested food and other waste in your gut. Remember to replenish your gut with good bacteria (probiotics) afterwards.
Tip #10- Eat your last meal (consisting of lighter foods and small amounts) early in the evening. Remember, food is nourishment and eating should be relaxing and pleasurable. Even if you are a foodie at heart, you can still minimize digestive discomfort by simply following natural tips before, during and after each meal.