Digestive Survival Guide for the Holiday Season 

The Digestive system has one of the most important functions in Chinese medicine. We ARE what we EAT! So much of Chinese medical treatment and recommendations are directed towards healthy eating and digestion. For most of us, these principles are difficult to adhere to during the holiday season. Here are some general guidelines to consider as we gear up for the holidays.

Traditional Chinese Medicine treats overeating like a trauma that can have lingering effects long after the event has occurred. However, there are some approaches from our Digestive Survival Guide for the Holiday Season that you can use to lessen the negative effects of the amount of food we’re about to eat.

Eat slowly and mindfully

Apart from the fact that it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare a holiday meal, be sure to savor and enjoy the food.  Whether we’re starving from preparation of the meal or in a hurry to get through it, our digestion works best when we eat slowly and chew thoroughly. In Chinese medicine, we talk about the importance of taking the time to thoroughly chew food, and modern science shows that this aids the release of digestive hormones and enzymes. So, if you have a little something 20 minutes before the “real food” comes, you will more likely be able to recognize when you’ve had enough.

Pace yourself over the course of a few hours

Much like lifting weights, it’s easier to lift 20 lbs. twenty times than it is to lift 400 lbs. one time. Over the course of the day or weekend; grab a plate with a moderate portion and eat slowly. Then wait at least 20-30 minute before getting the next plate. The sensation of satiety – or the feeling of being full – is dependent on timing as well as quantity of food. Not only will this allow you to eat more over the long run, but you will also feel much less bloated because you’re giving your stomach a workload it can handle.

Don’t drink and eat!

As best as we try, most holiday food is NOT light or easy to digest. Therefore, it is best not to add more work for your digestive energy by also adding drinks to the holiday meal. Keep your water consumption to between meals. Favor drink room temperature beverages.  Freezing cold drinks reduce digestive strength and increase bloating and indigestion. If you are going to drink alcohol favor drinking red wine. At least it is room temperature. Skip the holiday cocktail with ice.

Digestive herbs

Head to our clinic and pick up some herbs to help you to digest the delicious, but harder to digest foods. 

Reduce food coma

I know, the first thing you want to do after your meal is lay down and go into a food coma. Try something different and take a walk with your family! A leisurely stroll after eating helps stimulate acupuncture points along the shin bone. These points have functions to move the large & small intestines. 

Halve the number of starches that you eat

They can make you feel bloated and full before you get started. Potatoes, breads, rice, stuffing …will make you feel full and help to bring on a food coma. The easiest way to make sure you do this is to take the regular amount on your plate and divide the carbs/starches in half. (Always keeping the carbs on your plate, NO DOUBLE-DIPPING!!!) End result, one full carb serving for every two plates.

Eat greens!

Got peas, green beans, creamed spinach, salad etc…? The fiber will help moderate sugar levels keeping you out of the food coma.


Your emotional state has a strong effect on your digestive health. So eat, laugh, and be merry! and leave the family feuds and politics at the door. If your family dynamics are not ideal, then think of something that brings a smile to your face while eating.  

Take a Walk

After all that food and beverage, take the whole gang outside for a little post-prandial constitutional. A fifteen minute walk is all it takes to burn some calories, regulate blood sugar, and aid in digestion.

THE AFTERMATH OF A BIG MEAL. We all know what comes after a big meal… sometimes the boat floats slowly down the river… other times it flows quick like the rapids! If your bowel functions still haven’t regulated after a few days, or your IBS, stomach bloat, or indigestion has flared up;  come in for an acupuncture treatment to see how Chinese Medicine can help. Research concluded in this meta-analysis show that acupuncture exhibits clinically and statistically significant control of IBS symptoms.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Healing Elephant Team! May it be as rejuvenating as it is filling!