On Thanksgiving, turkey and stuffing usually come with a side of indigestion and acid reflux. Overeating may be responsible for the digestive pains, but there are several measures you can take to help your body break down the fatty meal. We spoke with Dr. Rabin Rahmani
, Gastroenterologist, to discuss what we can do to aid digestion before, during and after Thanksgiving dinner.
Before Thanksgiving dinner
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not eating all day to 'save room' for dinner. "It places a large energy demand on the body at one time," says Dr. Rahmani. "An overloaded body won't properly metabolize, which can cause problems with digestion, going to the bathroom and acid reflux." You also run the risk of not having room for the main course. Eating a sensible breakfast and lunch will allow for an enjoyable dinner.
Aside from exercise making you healthier overall, it helps aid the digestion process. Dr. Rahmani recommends taking advantage of the day off by exercising for at least an hour. "Exercise will help the body retrieve the good nutrients from what you're consuming rather than it turning into fat. It will also help your blood metabolize the food you consume more rapidly."
During Thanksgiving dinner
Although turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, don't overindulge. Dr. Rahmani suggests having a balanced meal with a fair amount of meat and starches. Maintaining adequate hydration is also important, especially if you're consuming alcohol. "Many Thanksgiving dishes have a high salt content. A large consumption of salt content along with alcohol could present symptoms such as fatigue." And as always, thoroughly chew your food until it is fully broken down.
After Thanksgiving dinner
It's important to allow your body to digest your meal by not going to sleep right away. "When you go to sleep, a large amount of what you eat turns into fat, which is how you gain weight – especially if you've consumed a large meal," says Dr. Rahmani. In addition, lying horizontally before your body has a chance to digest food could cause severe acid reflux since gravity is unable to guide it down the digestive tract, causing food to sit in your stomach or go up the wrong way. Dr. Rahmani recommends waiting at least two hours after eating to go to sleep, and sleeping with an extra pillow that night.