Uninvited Thanksgiving Day Guests


Thanksgiving should be a joyous time with friends and family. We share a delicious meal and reflect upon our gratitude for the year gone by and the one to come. Unfortunately, the meal can be ruined by physical problems caused by overeating, over indulging and over expectations. Many of my patients come to my New York City naturopathic office the week after with many regrets rather than gratitudes. The good thing is that we can avoid some of these discomforts and still eat our pumpkin pie too.

Listening to Cousin Bill go on and on about his stock investments, isn't the only reason you have a headache. One of the main culprits of headaches around holiday eating is tannins. Tannins are found in spices like cinnamon, clove, and chocolate but probably your main source is red wine. Research has shown that tannins trigger changes in serotonin levels, which can lead to headaches. In addition, they increase the release of prostaglandins, inflammatory compounds, which have been shown to induce headaches. Red wine is high also in histamines and tyramine. If you don't want to avoid wine all together, make sure to stay hydrated, having a glass of water for every glass of wine. You may also consider switching to white wine which has less tannins since the skins are removed during the fermentation process. Using natural antihistamine like freeze dried nettles before hand may be helpful. If you already have a headache, some natural pain relievers include turmeric and ginger, inhaling essential oils of peppermint and eucalyptus or try this , which will be sure to be a party favorite.

The burning in your chest, abdominal pain, and burping of acid reflux can really ruin your night. When we eat large portions in one sitting and don't properly chew our food, we can end up in pain. This is made worse at Thanksgiving because we tend to eat more foods such as greasy and spicy foods, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol that lower the lower esphogeal spincter. To prevent this, chew food thoroughly rather than inhaling your food (you will probably consume less as well). Also resist the urge to lie down on the couch in a food comma and take a walk instead. If you do get symptoms, don't reach for antacids as you need stomach acid to break down food. In fact, reflux is often associated with low stomach acid, which causes the sphincter to relax. Better choices are drinking digestive supporting teas such as chamomile, fennel and ginger or having some apple cider vinegar before your meal. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to calm the stomach and can help with digestion and to relieve symptoms quickly.

"I can't fit into my Jeansitis"
The likelihood you actually gained ten pounds after one meal is not very likely. You would have had to consume 30,000 calories, which is more than if you ate the whole turkey and pumpkin pie. Pre and post holiday snacking at the office and social events are partly to blame. But the largest contributor to holiday weight is probably water retention. The abundance of high sodium foods such as chips, cheese, processed foods, and deli meats cause us to retain more water. Besides practicing moderation in eating these foods, having more high potassium foods like fresh fruits and vegetables can help. It is also important that we stay hydrated and avoid over consuming alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Moving is also helpful. One of the best exercises for fluid balance is probably yoga especially gentle inversion like legs up the wall.