Did you know that mice and most rodents in general, when presented with an unlimited supply of food, will eat until they die? They literally make themselves burst with food. Dogs will also eat uncontrollably, but the difference is that eventually they’ll puke and be fine, and then they’ll keep eating until they puke again.
What do I do when I eat so much that I wonder if I was a rodent or a dog in my previous life? Here’s my 3 favorite tips!
1. Lay on your left side.
If you’re not feeling nauseous, you should try laying on your left side.
Why? There’s actually two reasons for that and the reason it’s going to work for you depends on which part of your digestive system is hurting.
Number one, it helps with acid reflux. If you had something that caused heartburn or a similar sensation coming from that part of the digestive tract, laying on your left side will prevent the gastric juice from traveling up your esophagus and causing that horrible burning sensation, simply because of how the stomach is shaped:
Number two: it helps things move, if you know what I mean. When you get rid of that stuff that’s making you uncomfortable, then you will obviously feel better. Again, this is due to how our intestines are shaped.
A quick refresher – pretty basic stuff, but bear with me! We’ve got the small intestine, which is this cable-looking mess in the middle of our tummies, and then we have the major intestine, also known as the colon (see picture below), which is a bigger tube going around our stomach. When we eat food, after going through the stomach and all that, the food enters the small intestine, where it’s being broken down and digested, and then it enters our colon through the cecum, which is a connecting point between the small and the large intestine and it’s found on the right side of our bodies (look below). Then it goes around the colon in a clockwise direction (or if you’re looking at your own tummy right now, it’s gonna be anti-clockwise) until it’s excreted through the anus. In other words, food travels down your colon from right to the left side of your body.
So, laying on our left side means we’re helping things move down the transverse colon and then down the descending colon and all the other Latin words. We’re basically employing gravity to help our hard-working guts process that horrible, delicious meal. Thanks, gravity.
2. Do some yoga.
Easy, easy, we’re not going into any down dogs or headstands here. It’s so easy, you wouldn’t even know it’s yoga unless I told you. Or unless you already know about yoga. It will especially help if one of the major causes of your distress is gas. Here are my favorites, that are also easy for any person at any age.
- The Wind Relieving Pose – are you really surprised we’re starting with this one? And no, it’s not just a name that us, dumb Westerners, gave for a sophisticated Sanskrit asana. This is apparently a literal translation.
- Twist it! If you already know some yoga, pick some of your favorite twists and do them. If you don’t, I’ve got you covered! Start with a simple seated twist: sit in a comfortable cross-legged position (if it’s not comfortable, put a cushion under your butt), and twist your torso to one side, like so:
- Then, when you feel more comfortable, extend one leg and bend the other. This will help you achieve a slightly deeper twist and will also compress one side of your tummy, stimulating and massaging it, and helping things get moving. Repeat on both sides:
- And, for the final twist, lay on your back. Raise both your legs in a tabletop position (shins parallel to the floor), extend your shoulders to the side. Turn your head to the right and, keeping the 90 degree bend of your knees, drop your legs to the left. Try not to lift your right shoulder off the floor. Repeat on the other side. This is probably my favorite yoga pose ever, because it helps stimulate digestion, but most of all, it’s soooo good for my lower back!
3. Prepare a miracle elixir.
Well, not exactly miracle, but these concoctions sure can work wonders.
Your kitchen is full of things you can put into a cup of hot water that will ease your digestive discomfort. Here’s a list of my favorites, and below I’ll write recipes for two of my favorite digestive elixirs.
- Chamomile tea – soothes the stomach.
- Spearmint tea – soothes the stomach and encourages digestion; helps extremely well with nausea.
- Ginger – also helps with nausea. Radically boosts digestion – my favorite ingredient!
- Turmeric – has anti-inflammatory properties and a little bit of heat, so just like anything spicy, it helps with digestion.
- Black pepper – especially freshly ground, because this way we get more of the precious yet volatile piperine, which is a compound responsible not only for pepper’s pungent flavor, but also for its digestive properties. Piperine also increases turmeric’s bioavailability (meaning your body will get more out of turmeric when you pair it with black pepper).
- Cayenne pepper – widely effective for all digestive ailments.
- Cardamom – reduces excess mucus, gas and bloating in the stomach and small intestine.
- Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar – both stimulate the production of gastric juice, which breaks food down so that it can move further down. That will also help get rid of heartburn. They’re also said to boost metabolism in general, but that’s apparently not entirely backed by science.
- Pineapple and papaya – pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, and papaya contains papain, which both breaks down protein and are common ingredients in store-bought digestive enzyme pills. Papain and bromelain will literally digest your food, and though I realize that makes them sound thuggish, this is exactly what you want.
Recipe: Hot Spicy Ginger Tea
- a few slices of fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 of a small/medium lemon
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 cardamom
- pinch black pepper
- pinch cayenne
- optional: cloves
- optional: honey or other sweetener
- optional: juice from half an orange
Bring some water to a boil. If you have fresh ginger, pour boiling water into a cup with just the ginger slices and steep for about 5-10 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients. If you have ground ginger, pour water into a cup, wait 5-10 minutes for it to cool down a little and then add all ingredients. Drink hot. Keep stirring, as the powdered spices will fall to the bottom, and you do want them in your tummy!
Recipe: Herbal Digestive Fire Tea
- 1 bag chamomile tea
- 1 bag mint tea
- a slice of fresh ginger/half a teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch cayenne
- optional: honey or other sweetener to taste
Steep the chamomile tea, the mint tea and fresh ginger in boiling hot water for 5 minutes. If you only have ground ginger, add it after the teas have steeped for 5 minutes. Add cayenne and optional honey. Drink hot, and keep stirring!
If you’re not a fan of herbal teas or oriental-tasting spices, I won’t lie: this may be a little hard for you. Natural, raw honey makes it ten times better, though, and so does maple syrup – or molasses, if you’re into that. But hey, you asked, I delivered.
You can also make a papaya and pineapple smoothie if you can stand putting any more food-like items in your stomach just make sure to skip any dairy! Your stomach is already upset and dairy will make it much worse, even if normally you don’t notice any side effects.
There you have it, my three very extensive tips for relieving that overindulgence aftermath.
Which one was your favorite? If you have any other tips for improving digestion after a huge meal, please let me know in the comments below! (Seriously. Please do. My digestion is pretty poor as it is, and I’m always looking for new ways to make my life more enjoyable and less painful. So, don’t hesitate to share, and see you in my next post!)