5 Ways to Cure That Too-Full Thanksgiving Feeling
And no, we’re not talking about curling up on the sofa. We’ve got some natural remedies you might want to try instead.
We’ve all been there on Thanksgiving: that moment when you feel so full that you discreetly unbutton the top of your pants and untuck your shirt to hide it, or retreat for a moment to stash your control-top tights in your purse and hope that no one notices your bare legs. Or maybe your tummy is so bloated with second helpings of pecan pie that all you want to do is lie down on the sofa in the fetal position. Sure, that might help, but it’s not exactly…socially appropriate. Instead of disrobing or curling up in a ball in front of guests after the holiday meal, you might want to try one of these natural remedies:
CHEW SOME GINGER
There’s a reason ginger is often turned to for stomach upset: it works. According to Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist, chiropractor, and doctor of natural medicine, ginger has been highly regarded as a digestive aid for thousands of years. “It’s effective for everything from nausea, to gas and bloating to a standard tummy ache,” says Dr. Axe. “And if you’re like most people who go all-out on Thanksgiving, chances are you’ll be suffering from at least one of those conditions.” Gingerol, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that naturally occurs in ginger, can “relax the gut lining,” explains Dr. Axe, which helps that enormous meal, um, move along more quickly.
I know what you’re thinking now—do we have to chew it? No, but Dr. Axe has found that chewing a slice of fresh, raw ginger is the fastest way to get results. If that’s too intense for you, you can make some fresh ginger juice or warm ginger tea.
DRINK SOME ALOE VERA JUICE
Dr. Axe also recommends drinking 2-3 ounces of aloe juice immediately after your Thanksgiving feast. Aloe juice can be found at most natural foods stores, but look for one that has been certified pure to make sure you’re getting the full benefits. Aloe juice, explains Dr. Axe, contains natural enzymes that aid in digestion and help to break down sugars and fats. “It also normalizes the body’s pH balance which can be thrown off by a large carb- and protein-heavy meal,” he says. Also, he notes, “aloe vera has a mild laxative effect that can help move all of that excess food gently through the colon.”
TRY DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
If you’re looking for a pill to pop, Dr. Axe recommends seeking out a natural digestive enzymeto keep on hand for after the feast. “The too-full feeling we experience after Thanksgiving dinner is a sign that we’ve eaten more food than our body can efficiently digest at any one time,” he says. Dr. Axe explains that taking natural digestive enzymes can help relieve that discomfort “by helping to break down large molecules of food into smaller particles that the body can more easily absorb or expel.”
RESIST THE URGE TO LIE DOWN
I know all you want to do when you’re over-stuffed is lie down and take a nap. But it’s been clinically proven that taking a brief walk after eating will have a better effect on your digestion than having an espresso or drinking a digestif. A stroll might be just the thing you need to take a quick break from your family anyway, or a good way to finally get the secret gossip from your cousin Jane. Plus, if you’re lying down you’re more likely to get heartburn, so try to keep yourself upright for a couple hours after the meal, if possible.
DRINK A BITTER DIGESTIF
Ok, so I couldn’t find any hard science or doctors to back me up 100% on this one, but centuries of tradition have to count for something. Almost every European country has its own version of a bitter herbal digestive liqueur that’s sipped after meals. (Italy alone produces hundreds of types of Amari, bitter liqueurs made with everything from artichokes to wild herbs.)
I’m personally partial to Becherovka, a 200-plus-year-old Czech liqueur that tastes a bit like Christmas. The grandmother with whom I lived with briefly as a student in Prague used to give me shot glasses full of Becherovka, which is made from a secret blend of herbs, to cure any ailment. I’m not so sure it helped my head colds, but I swear it makes me feel better after an overly indulgent meal.
On the less boozy side of this category lie herbal bitters. Although most people think of bitters only as the crucial ingredient in a Manhattan, I find a splash of bitters in soda water can be tremendously tummy-soothing. I actually keep a bottle of Urban Moonshine’s digestive bitters at my desk at work for times when I have to taste four different dinners in the test kitchen in one day.
Bon Appétit deputy editor Andrew Knowlton, a professional eater by trade, swears by German Underberg bitters. My dad happens to hold the same opinion, and we keep them on hand at all our family holidays. They taste great, and might be just what you need to stay upright—and fully clothed—until your guests leave.