As the festive season is well and truly upon us, it’s importance to stay mindful and aware of how over indulgence can affect your digestive system.
Heavy foods, alcohol and generally over eating can put strain on your digestive fire. According to Ayurveda, Impaired digestive fire is the root cause of ama – toxins, which accumulate in your body.
We all experience indigestion in different way based on your Ayurvedic type. Pitta (fire) types general experience acid indigestion, reflux, gastroenteritis, belching, diarrhoea, generally feeling hot and burning sensations in the body.
If you experience these symptoms, try to cut down on acidic foods: alcohol, caffeine and red meat. Salty, sour and spicy foods can also aggravate, causing excessive heat and inflammation in body.
Vata (air) types are more prone to feeling bloated with constipation. Nuts, seeds, cold and dry foods can have his affect on the digestive system. Moist, warming soups and stews help prevent the body becoming too dry.
Kapha (earth) types digestion is generally slow. An over consumption of heavy, fatty or high sugar foods and generally overeating will tax the digestive system even more resulting in feeling heavy and lethargic. Dairy, fatty, high sugar and cold foods can aggravate Kapha.
Here are some simple guidelines and remedies to help you through the Festive Season.
Allow the digestive system to have a few rest days by having light nutritious meals.
Have some light, simple soups at the ready for such days.
I found this recipe in Jasmine Hemsley’s book: ‘East by West‘. Put it on your Christmas list, I highly recommend it. Lot’s of delicious recipes; not too overcomplicated and information on how to adapt recipes for different Doshas.
I made a few alterations to the recipe; I didn’t add the noodles and included slices of fresh ginger in the stock. Once you have the basic ‘know how’ to make a good chicken stock for soup, you can add anything you have in the fridge and spice rack.
Lentil Soup…. or any pulses work well
During Autumn and Winter, lentil soup is a staple. My basic ‘go to recipe is:
- 1 large onion copped.
- A couple of carrots chopped.
- A few cloves of garlic, grated.
- A thumb size piece of ginger
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- Pinch turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 150g or so of lentils.
- Tbs oil or ghee
I have used split mung dhal here as it cooks quickly and generally doesn’t need to be soaked. Red lentils also work well if you want some thing quick. If you are using yellow split peas or other pulses, you may need to soak them overnight or at least a 4-8 hours as they will be quite indigestible. If you find lentils difficult to digest and cause bloating and wind, make sure you pre-soak them. Adding a pinch of Asafoetida (hing) or ajwan (caraway) seeds will improve their digestibly.
Fry off spices in hot ghee or oil, add onion, carrot, garlic and ginger. Fry for 5-10 mins. Add lentils and any other vegetables. Over with water and let it simmer for 30-40 mins.
Stay mindful and aware of your appetite. Only eat when you’re hunger, don’t snack just because food is on offer.
If it’s difficult to stick to your regular level of activity, try to get out and walk as often as possible. Try and get as many family member’s possible involved.
If you drink alcohol, try to have a few alcohol free days. Here’s a few delicious alcohol free alternative. If you make it to class on the run up to Christmas, there will be lots for you to sample after the class:
Mint Lime Ice Tea
- 4 Mint tea bags
- 4 cups boiling water
- Juice of 2 limes
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- Lime wedges to garnish
- Honey to taste
- Sparkling water or tonic
Add tea bags to boiling water and let it infuse for 15 minutes. Remove bags and chill for 3 at least 3 hours. When ready to serve. Add ice, lime juice, mint leaves, honey and lime wedge to a tall glass. top up with mint tea and a little sparing water if desired.
Mulled Apple Juice
- 1 Ltr good quality apple juice
- 2 oranges – sliced
- Thumb size piece of ginger, finely sliced
- Cinnamon stick
- 4 Cloves
- 2 cup Boiling water
Add all the ingredients to a pan and simmer for 10 mins. Serve hot. Add honey to taste when it has cooled slightly.
Ayurvedic remedies to alleviate digestive discomfort
Agni Deepana – balancing the digestive fire
There are lots of kitchen herbs and spices we use in Ayurveda to ensure the digestive fire is working correctly. Agni Deepana – balancing the digestive fire, is the ingestion of spices and herbal preparations before a meal to ensure the digestive fire (agni) will effectively digest the food you eat. It is just like putting the oven on a the correct temperature to cook food. Too high and the food will burn, too low and the food won’t cook properly.
Cumin and Honey
If the digestive fire is feeling sluggish, try dry roasted cumin seeds in a pan until it just begins to smoke and you get the aroma of the spices. Ground them to a fine powder. You can keep this in an airtight jar to have before meals. Take half a t-spoon of this with honey before meals to balance the digestive fire.
Ginger, lime juice and rock salt
This combination provides all six tastes: bitter, pungent, astringent, sweet, sour and salt. When all the tastes are provided in a meal we are less likely to feel dissatisfied and reach for something sweet after meals. This remedy also has Agni Deepana properties.
On a t-spoon, grate a small amount of fresh ginger, a squeeze or lime and a pinch of rock salt. Chew this before meals.
Ama Pachana – elimination of toxins, reducing inflammation and improving digestion.
Ginger, fennel and Ajwan (caraway) are all excellent spices to have a after a meal to assist and sooth the digestive system. After meals, try one of the following.
Fresh ginger and/ or fennel infusion
Add fresh grated ginger to boiling water, drink after meals. Fennel seeds or Ajwan can be added to boiling water and drunk on their own or added to the ginger infusion.
Ajwan (caraway) is a particularly good spice to help eliminate digestive issues.
Ajwan and Ginger infusion
Dry roast 2 tsp Ajwan seeds, just until they start to smoke and they let off their aroma. Add a few slices of ginger, boiling water and simmer for 10mins.
Ajwan and Fenugreek infusion.
Fantastic if you feel bloated or suffer from wind. Follow directions above.
Enjoy the Festive Season, but be more mindful and aware of your digestive health.