So, you overdid it…or just ate something that does very bad things to you. Maybe you didn’t binge per se but abandoned the original plan and now feel the pain. You ate…maybe more than you intended, maybe differently than you intended. Non-Primal foods were consumed – perhaps many of them or just a few in larger than planned quantities. Non-Primal/sub-Primal drinks were imbibed beyond the point of intention. And now the consequences are playing out. You’re stuck in a bloated, sloth-like, catatonic state. You’re nursing a major headache with every shade shut and the covers over your head wishing in a rather non-seasonal mindset that your children would take the noise to some distant corner of the neighborhood. Maybe you’ve taken up residence in the water closet. In a less dramatic scenario, perhaps you’re just pushing yourself through the day because you notice your energy is off, your digestion not up to full speed, your mood not quite as equanimous as usual. Whether you feel it was worth it or not, who wouldn’t want to reverse the course of misery itself after the fact?
I’ll admit I don’t really get into cleanses or detoxes. That said, I do think we can help our bodies in their own miraculous processes get back on track – or at least get out of their way while they curse our names. With a little time and care, we can recover and move on from the day’s damage not too much worse for the wear. The healthier we eat and live on a daily basis, the better condition we’re in to weather these upsets. Unfortunately, however, the cleaner we eat the other 364 days of the year, the more we might feel a significant detour in our diet. That heaping plate of mashed potatoes with processed gravy product might have barely registered pre-Primal. Today it can leave you with indigestion and noxious gas for a good 36 hours. (Do I lie?) Think of it this way: with health comes sensitivity to what’s unhealthy. If you’re looking to feel better after a big day (or season) of non-Primal eating, consider these modest proposals for what ails you.
Commit to a morning fast.
Conventional wisdom says eat normally after a holiday binge, but the body says differently. (Guess which one I’m inclined to heed.) Maybe the digestive fallout makes fasting a given, but even if you’re able to eat, give your body a break until early or even mid-afternoon. CW thinks if you go for a few hours without eating you’re sure to throw yourself head on into a major binge. That’s not the case for most Primal folks. Give your body the time it needs to take care of the residuals from the day before.
Drink some tea.
Lay off the food for a while, but go ahead and hydrate. Resist, however, Grandma’s suggestion to down a shot of hard booze. (Hands for how many times folks have heard this from family or friends?) Research has shown alcohol actually slows gastric emptying. One study that compared the effects of tea, wine and schnapps on gastric emptying showed that tea won hands down. Although the tea in the study was simple black tea, consider something without caffeine. (Your body has enough to contend with at the moment.) Chamomile can relax your nerves and your digestive tract, while peppermint can soothe an upset stomach. Opt for something other than mint, however, if heartburn is an issue. Keep in mind you shouldn’t down massive quantities of water (another common recommendation you’ll hear from conventional sources). You don’t want to drink so much that you end up diluting the gastric juices that are trying to do their job.
There’s not much in terms of research (to be found in English anyway), but this is one age-old home remedy that will likely help. The folk wisdom that recommends schnapps, for example, is generally based on herb/bitter based schnapps formulations. The remedy is in the herb – not the alcohol.
Avoid antacids and acid reducing medication.
Your gastric juices are there to digest your food. If your food is slow to digest and feels like a rock in your stomach, does countering or reducing the natural acids that will break things down and move them along make any logical sense? Steer clear of these “remedies” and let your body do its thing.
Take a good helping of probiotic.
Whatever you ate likely did a number on your bacterial profile. A recent study, in fact, shows it only takes a few days to effect substantial change (about the same duration as most holiday visits to non-Primal relatives). While our guts are amazingly adaptable, that holiday binge might not be doing it any favors. Help replenish your healthy gut environment with a good probiotic supplement.
If you’re a bound up bag of aches and nerves, it doesn’t do your digestive process (or mentality) any good. Relax. Take a hot bath or shower. Turn up the heat, put on some relaxing music, and put a hot water bottle on your stomach and heated rice sock around your neck and shoulders.
Get some help from enzymes.
Especially if you ate something that you don’t tolerate well, try a quality enzyme supplement. (If you don’t have one on hand, bribe a family member or friend to visit your local health food/co-op store and search for one.) Avoid anything that contains sugar or artificial colors, fillers, etc. This is not the time for chemical additives.
Move but don’t push it.
You might not be up for your regular weight lifting session, but resist the urge to totally park it on the couch all day. Research shows that slow, low-level moving like walking aids gastric emptying. Those residuals of your holiday meal will move along more quickly if you get it in gear. There’s motivation to get up!
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air and sun.
Especially if you’re feeling nauseated, fresh air can pull you out of your misery. Add sun, and you might just have a new lease on life. Sure, you may feel just as crappy an hour after you go back inside, but stay outside as long as you can to give yourself some relief. (I know we all don’t live in California.)
Eat a small Primal meal at the end of the day.
Avoid sending your insulin spiking multiple times that day by grazing. Fast as long as it’s productive and comfortable, and then enjoy a modest Primal meal. When you do, choose something that will keep you satisfied for the rest of the night without taking up too much space/energy in an already sensitive stomach. Some vegetable-based fiber and protein should do the trick.
Go to bed early.
You’ve been through the wringer. However lethargic you’ve felt, certain body processes have been on overdrive or have been working harder to compensate for the food related stresses. Give into your body’s intuitive demands, and hit the sack early. Tomorrow is another Primal day.
Have you had any post-indulgence days that left you seeking relief? What’s works for you? Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading, everyone.
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.