Food hangovers happen to us all. It’s natural to overindulge from time to time, but all of that excess comes with a lot of unpleasant consequences — like a bloating, aching belly — not to mention guilt. What can you do to redeem yourself the next day and get back on track?
Whether it’s too many drinks, sugar cookies or savory hors d'oeuvres, here’s a recovery plan that you can rely on:
If you overeat at a party on Friday night, you may think it’s a good idea to do extreme damage control — like undereating — the next day. But fasting can be a prescription for failure. By the end of the day, you may feel so hungry that you end up overindulging once again. A better plan is to make healthy, nutrient-dense choices that will keep your stomach satiated and your blood sugar balanced.
When you wake up, a high-fiber meal like oatmeal with blueberries is a wise go-to. For lunch and dinner, make magnesium-rich foods a priority on your plate. Magnesium is a mineral that can reduce fluid retention, which is often the culprit behind bloating. Enough magnesium can also stimulate a bowel movement by relaxing the muscles and pulling water into the intestines.
To get more magnesium at mealtime, blend a handful of greens, like collard greens, chard, kale, or spinach, into a low-sodium, broth-based soup. Or, to decrease the burden on your digestive system, sauté them with a little bit of olive oil or try steaming them. Top off your meal with other magnesium MVPs, like pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
This tip should be obvious, but make sure you avoid the offenders that got you into trouble in the first place. Sugary treats, greasy meals and junk food with empty carbs can trigger inflammation and irritate the gut, so stay away.
One way to help fight the bloat naturally is to stay hydrated (and avoid dehydrators like coffee or alcohol). Water will also aid in the digestive process, so sip as soon as you wake up and throughout the day. For an extra bloat-blasting power, mix a squeeze of lemon, a splash of apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger and a little bit of honey or stevia with your water.
When you’re feeling crummy, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But, by jolting the GI tract, cardio can give your belly the breakthrough it needs. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, or biking kick starts blood flow, gastrointestinal motility and digestion, helping to alleviate belly bloat and achiness.
Twisting yoga poses — such as seated spinal twist — can help your hangover by stimulating digestion and waste elimination. As you twist, make sure to take deep, calm breaths. A practice as simple as mindful breathing may relieve tension and relax the muscles, allowing your body’s GI system to do its job.
Ginger, mint and chamomile are ancient traditional herbal remedies that have been used for centuries to cure a range of digestive issues, including bloating, gas and digestive pain.
Drinking warm ginger tea or fresh grated ginger in warm water is a simple, yet effective belly soother. The oily resin from the root of the ginger plant contains bioactive components that have positive effects on the body. For relief from bloating and discomfort, ginger may stimulate digestion and gastric emptying.
The peppermint leaf and its essential oil have been used extensively for medicinal purposes throughout the world. Due to its relaxant and antispasmodic abilities, peppermint may be able to ease symptoms like bloating, gas and abdominal cramps. Note: If you’re prone to heartburn, skip the mint, as it may intensify reflux.
The many terpenoids and flavonoids contained within its dried flowers gives chamomile its medicinal magic. Chamomile has a powerful relaxation effect on the digestive system, leading to relief from bloat-related pain and discomfort. Chamomile may also be effective at relieving indigestion and nausea, which are symptoms that often accompany bloating.
You can redeem yourself from a food hangover — and you don’t have to go to extremes to do so. To get back on track, your prescription is all natural: nurture your body with healthy food, a lot of good hydration and and a little movement. Do that and you should be able to break through the ‘blah’ feeling in no time.
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