“Oh wow! I definitely ate too much.” Undoubtedly you’ve said that, or at least thought it, after a Thanksgiving dinner–I know, I have! And, more than once.
Because Thanksgiving has so many wonderful foods, in vast quantities, and some we only get once or twice per year, it is easy for even the most mindful of eaters to eat too much. And with that much food in your belly, your digestive system can be overwhelmed and seem a bit sluggish.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a little boost by making yourself a “digestif” and begin feeling better immediately. Here are three types of simple post-meal digestive drinks.
A number of different herbs can be steeped in hot water to help soothe your post-Turkey tummy.
Try ginger for increasing digestive fire and reducing nausea–boil for 10 minutes. A mint infusion can encourage secretion of enzymes and bile to help breakdown food–steep in boiled water for 10 minutes. Chamomile infusion is very soothing, helping to reduce any cramping you might be feeling and relaxing the whole body–steep in boiled water for 10-12 minutes.
If you’re at the relatives and don’t have any of the above herbs, look in the spice cabinet for fennel, anise, cumin, or cardamom. Boil any or all these for 10-20 minutes, then drink to reduce gas and bloating.
Of these, my favorite is spearmint–in addition to the digestive benefits, it’s also invigorating to help combat the food coma.
When it comes to Camellia sinensis tea, there are a few you can look to for digestive help.
First, a chai blend will contain many of the spices listed above and therefore will help digestion–you’ll feel better if you skip the milk.
Second, depending whether you generally regard green tea or black tea as more bitter, go for that. Bitter tastes aid secretion of digestive enzymes, so drinking bitter tea is a way of telling your gallbladder and liver to work harder to support digestion.
Third, look for pu-erh tea. Pu-erh is a unique tea because of its double fermentation process, which is what makes it the go-to choice in China to accompany a heavy or greasy meal. It is thought to bind to excess dietary fat to prepare it for excretion.
My favorite pu-erh tea blend is Belight Tea (but I’m biased), or try a ripe “shu” pu-erh tea cake.
Perhaps you want to continue boozing it up, but feel too full to drink more, well, with these digestifs you can do both.
Many countries across Europe have their own form of digestive liqueurs, usually based on bitter herbs. Bitter herbs help your body secret more digestive enzymes and increase bile production, while the alcohol content can increase stomach pH for better digestion capability.
Examples include Schnapps, Fernet, and Grappa, though my favorite is Jägermeister. One shot of these and you’ll notice the pressure on your belly easing and be able to keep the party going.
Whether or not you go for a digestive drink to help settle your stomach after a big Thanksgiving meal, give thanks for the abundance you have received. Then, allow yourself to breathe deeply, giving your body full oxygen to help with the metabolic processes. Going for a light stroll–as opposed to sitting–may also help you digest better, and it’s certainly much better than picking at leftovers!
However you celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy, and be confident knowing you have these digestive resources ready when you need them.