I don’t know about you, but mealtime is a sacred part of my day. Whether I eat in, dine out, or pack a brown paper bag, feeding my body is a special experience I savor every time. And so there’s nothing worse than enjoying your favorite meal only for it to be spoiled by the subsequent discomfort of bloating—or gas, stomach pain, constipation, heartburn, fatigue, etc. And bon appetite soon becomes just blah. Been there? We all have.
Deep breath, don’t panic—there’s a solution to this suffering. But first—literally take a deep breath! Next time you sit down to eat, make sure your stomach is in a relaxed posture and your awareness is focused on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This simple form of mealtime meditation can greatly improve you digestion. Now that’s some food for thought 😊
According to Ayurveda, agni is the "digestive fire” in charge of breaking down food and other things we ingest from the environment, absorbing what is useful and eliminating the rest. Think: your body's tool for "cooking" your food. Without this fire, our system cannot digest anything we consume. The goal is to keep your agni burning gradually throughout the day.
To maintain a resilient digestive fire, Ayurveda recommends incorporating a variety of practices into your daily life that can strengthen agni—while also facilitating weight loss, improve the metabolism of food, and minimize those unpleasant GI symptoms.
So without further adieu, try these simple, natural, medicine-free Ayurvedic remedies to help your belly feel flat, calm, and balanced:
Upon waking, drink apple cider vinegar: add warm water, some good maple syrup or honey
When we wake up in the morning, our digestive fire is naturally low. Hot water mixed with ACV gives agni a jumpstart, both preparing it for food and stimulating the bowels. Do this every day if you can, not only when you’re feeling bloated or gassy. And then chug a huge glass of warm water with 1/2 a lemon.
Be mindful when you eat!
In other words—slow down! Sticking to a regular eating in a relaxed environment where you can focus on your food prepares your body for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Think: your yoga practice to your plate.
Don't drink a lot of liquid during meals—take small sips
Many people like to drink tea after dinner but this still disrupts digestion. Wait 30-60 minutes before drinking your tea. Ginger is best if you want to help your belly out (more on that below).
Avoid gas producing foods.
Cabbage, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, beans, broccoli and brussell sprouts are all foods most likely to give you gas. If you’re having issues, try cutting them out of your diet, and then reintroducing them one at a time. Notice how you feel afterward. If they make you bloated or gassy, either cook them with lots of digestive spices (see below!) or avoid them completely. Soda water is also full of gas (see: bubbles) and is not the best choice if you need extra help digesting your foods. Go for flat water with lemon.
The truth is it takes your body 3–4 hours to properly digest food—so grazing throughout the day tends to overload your system. By allowing between meals, your food can fully digest, giving proving you with more energy. Note: it is not true that you need to eat 6 smalls meals to increase your metabolism.
Eat raw fruit alone
Raw fruit in its whole goodness digests more quickly than other food. If eaten with other food, it starts to ferment in your belly. Note: cooked fruit is okay, especially when cooked and combined with other foods. That way it has time to assimilate.
Take magnesium supplement before bed (CALM is my fave)
Drink 1-3 tbsp in 6oz of warm water about an hour before bed. Don't chug right before bed if you have a small bladder or you'll be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Been there, done that. Magnesium not only helps your digestion but it also relaxes your muscles and gives your body a chance to recoop after a hard workout.
Drink ginger tea or juiced ginger
Ginger can help to counteract your food’s gas forming tendencies, Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne are renowned favorites for nurturing your digestive fire, while also boosting your immune system. Side note: Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the universal remedy due to its many benefits for the body. It’s been used for over 2,000 years to treat digestive issues. To make: steep ginger in boiling water for about 10 minutes. If you don't have fresh ginger root at home, ginger tea will work too. (My favorite is Rishi Tumeric Ginger or Yogi Ginger tea.) Viola. PS: wait 30 minutes to drink tea after meal so there's time for your body to focus on food digestion (drinking lots of liquid dilutes).
Do some form of daily movement
Whether it’s a bit of yoga each morning, a daily walk, or light stretching before bed. A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily.
When our digestive system is strong, we create healthy tissues and produce a subtle essence called ojas. In relation to Ayurveda, ojas is the innermost vital essence; the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. In contrast, if our agni is weakened by improper eating, lack of activity, negative emotional energy or unhealthy daily routine, our digestion will be weakened and prone to producing toxins that get stored in the body. In the world of Ayurveda, this toxic residue, known as ama, is known as the root cause of disease.
To learn more about how you can get good with your gut, reach out to me for a free consultation @ www.natashawellness.com/appointment!