Saturday, January 14, 2012

Digestive Health: Some Practical Tips and a Healthy Green Drink (bulk) Recipe.

Welcome, The Balanced Platter! Welcome health and healing, welcome empowerment and community.  A warm thank you to Amy and Maggie for inviting me to be a part of this amazing launch event.  And a collective thank you for creating this wonderful resource.  

Hello.  My name is Amber and that is not my gorgeous bloat-free stomach.  Thank you for joining me here on day 14 of TBP's welcome event.  We are halfway through this month of incredibly informative health-related posts.  Keep your energy high, as we have reached the peak, but it's all up-hill from here.

Today I will be discussing digestion.  I have compiled some friendly digestion tips and an easy way to get your green-drink-on throughout the month (with a bulk recipe for 12 cups of the green good stuff - child approved!).  But first, I must share.

So a little tidbit about myself...I am a reformed ravenous glutton.  I wouldn't readily share such information unless it was directly related to the point of this post, and it is, so allow me to explain.  I shot up to my 5'9" frame when I was about 16 years old.  I was a tall gangly thing with an appetite akin to small hippo and my friends endearingly nicknamed me, "The Pelican."  I could eat like no one's business.  Okay, fast forward to my early twenties when I met my husband, Scott.  Who knew I would find a partner with an equally high metabolism.  And we both ate like little piggies together (by piggies I mean it; at any given meal we ate a ton and very fast and made little eye contact). Fast forward one last time a few years later to when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease.  This obviously rocked my world and I changed everything about what I ate.  I also had to change how I ate.  The days of gluttonous (stuff myself until my eyes nearly pop out) eating needed to end, and for good reason.  Behavior is very hard to change, but it can be done!  Those who suffer from an intestinal disorder know the challenges entwined with food.  But whether you suffer from said issue or not, it's incredibly important to take very, very good care of your stomach and digestion.  
So here goes...

1.  s l o w  d o w n. This one is easier said than done.  But you've seen these people, or have these friends (Pelican) who seemingly inhale their food in seconds.  We work on this every night at dinner (Scott and me that is).  My daughter eats alarmingly slow, which is amazing to me, considering.   

2.  Chew, chew, chew.  Digestion starts in the mouth.  I was trying to explain this to my daughter and she looked at me like I was full of hooey.  My beloved grandpa chewed his food like 25 times before he swallowed.  As a child he explained to me why he chewed so long, and I looked at him like he was full of hooey.  Ah how things come full circle.

3.  Limit your liquids during meals and refrain from drinking cold liquids during and after meals.  Research suggestions to only drink 1/4 cup - 1/3 cup of liquid during a meal.  Too much liquid dilutes your precious enzymes and cold liquid slows down and disrupt digestion.

4.  If possible, don't eat when you're upset, scared, stressed out, or crying.  Have you ever tried to eat while crying?  I think it's biologically impossible.  Food tastes terrible.  And for good reason.  I tried it once and I swear my taste buds retracted.  Make concerted efforts to calm down before you eat. 
And never be this guy if you can help it.  There is just too much going on here (he's already violating tips 1-4 and we just got started).  His belly will surely thank him later!

5.   Soak and dehydrate oats, seeds and nuts.  Seriously look into making this a part of your routine if you have any issues with digestion (or just regularly eat these foods).  Please visit the links to learn more about why it's so important to soak and how it can improve your ability to digest these foods.   

6.  Sit down while you eat (Ahem, not in the car).  I'm a mommy and I'll be the first to admit I eat most my meals standing up in the kitchen.  It's because the minute I sit down I have to stand up and doing this over and over proves to be more exhausting than standing.  But I'm working on this.  I've hired a waiter.

7.  Relax after you eat (preferably in an upright position).  I'm famous for dining and my own home!  After dinner it's BOOM off to the races: dishes, laundry, baths, playtime, vacuuming, locating the missing book, etc.  Allow yourself the pleasure of relaxing for just 20 minutes after you eat.  Then move slowly but efficiently while getting the kids into bed thus allowing enough evening to watch the Netflix that's been sitting on the console table for 2 weeks.   

8.  If you have trouble digesting food overall, consider taking digestive enzymes before you eat.  These are my absolute favorite.  Also consider incorporating probiotics and fish oils into your diet.  Try to find a dairy/gluten free probiotic and make sure your fish oil is purified and free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins (it should state this on the bottle).

9.  Check out this great video (despite the audio issues, still a great watch).  Here Cain Carroll describes three yoga poses to improve digestion:   

10.  After a wonderful meal the last thing you want to feel is miserable, but it happens.  Here are some holistic remedies* to help calm your aching, full belly and improve digestion
*please consult a medical professional before taking herbs

  • a.  Ginger - check out this study explaining how and why ginger helps improve digestion.
  • b.  Apple Cider Vinegar - dilute a few teaspoons in room temp water before meal, or after if you're are experiencing great discomfort.
  • c.  Peppermint - has shown to decrease gas, bloating, cramping, and nausea.  Use as a tea, lozenge, or herbal capsule.  I can attest to the healing power of peppermint, it has helped me greatly many times!
  • d.  Chamomile - one of the best herbs for improving digestion and calming nerves.  Use as a tea or herbal capsule.
  • e.  Fennel is another fantastic herb.  Also very safe for infants and children. Use as a tea, capsules or even chew the seeds. 
  • f.  Other helpful herbs for digestion: parsley, meadowsweet, slippery elm & burdock.     
*     *     *     *     *     *    *     *     *
If you're still with me here, you're super awesome!  I now present you with a fantastic bulk green drink recipe, sure to help you get your green-drink-on all month long.  This green drink is the answer for those who cannot, for various reasons, digest large amounts of high fibrous foods (I'm raising my hand).  I happen to love all greens and could eat them everyday, unfortunately, this isn't the best choice for intestinal diseases, such as Crohn's.  Eating too many raw vegetables and leafy greens can really wreak havoc on sensitive intestines.  In an effort to get my greens, I created this bulk green drink.  Partly out of necessity and partly out of laziness (I greatly dislike cleaning my juicer - why does it have 500 parts?).

-3 1/2 punds carrots, washed and tips chopped off
-8 oranges, peeled 
-3 large cucumbers (about 2 pounds) washed 
-1 pineapple, peeled and cut into long chunks 
-10 ounces of spinach, washed 
-1 pound kale, washed 

How To
1.  Juice all the veggies (FYI: the pulp makes a delicious vegetable stock)
2.  Juice the orange and pineapple
3.  Mix together in a large pot
4.  Pour into favorite storage containers and place in freezer.
5.  Defrost what you need, when you need it, and enjoy a green drink all month long!

Share on: Healthy Vegan Friday 


  1. I love love love this post Amber. It's right up my alley and so complementary with my studies right now. Thank you so much for doing an amazing post for our launch. I'm so happy The Balanced Platter brought us together!

    1. Good Morning Maggie,

      Thank you so much! It was fun writing this post and I hope the information is helpful to others. Thanks again for this opportunity!

      Good luck with your studies. :-)

      --Amber :-)

  • A reader just left a great question on my Facebook page. She asked what to use instead of oranges and pineapple. Apples would do a great job giving this green drink a little sweet! Seasonal fruits such as strawberries, grapes and peaches would also be lovely. But we have to wait until these become available. Apples are my first suggestion for winter juicing if you can't have citrus!

  • Amy @ Simply Sugar and Gluten-FreeJanuary 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    What an incredible, informative post! I love greens, too. They're delicious in a juice, and your addition of fruit will balance out any bitterness from the kale. Honestly, I don't mind it at all but someone new to green juice might. :)Your storage tips are so helpful. Hate to admit it but I throw out the St. Dalfour jars. I am a little obsessive and like all my jars to match so I buy canning jars and use those. Not frugal or as green as I should be but that's how I like it.

    Thanks so much for your support of TBP! We are so grateful to have your support.


    1. Hi There Amy,

      Thank you.

      My philosophy on life is to do what works best for you and to do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Doing things to simply please others will only drain the spirit. :-)

      Thanks again for the opportunity to be a part of TBP's launch.

      Have a beautiful, restful weekend.

  • melissa @ glutenfreeforgoodJanuary 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    What a great post! I love the image of the guy eating, drinking, talking on the phone -- all while driving his car! So common in this rushed era we live in. YES, yoga is so good for digestion. I have to get some of those BPA free plastic baby food containers. You've reminded and inspired me to do so. Wonderful post. Very thorough.

    1. Hi There Melissa,

      I agree, that guy is all too familiar...and so funny. Glad I was able to offer some inspiration today!

      Be Well,

  • Adrienne @ Whole New MomJanuary 14, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Great post, Amber. I will say that I just recently dove into essential oils and i can't believe how well the peppermint works! It's really amazing. I personally tried Young Living - I am not sure if others are able to be taken orally, but I suspect very few are. Anyway, I have been unable to sleep on occasions and after taking about 5 drops I have been able to sleep.

    My husband used to chew on fennel seeds after every meal.

    Take care!

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      I agree 100%, peppermint is amazing. It has really come through for me time and again, and I don't know if you've also experienced this, but it works instantly. I relied on peppermint and chamomile tea while I was pregnant. I was medication free (for Crohn's) during both my pregnancies, and these herbs alone would calm my painful flare-ups. Incredible! Great advice about the sleeping aid (Geez, I could use this). So great to find a safe, holistic remedy. Good for you!

      Love fennel seeds as well.

      Have a great weekend Adrienne.

  • This green drink sounds delicious Amber. I love the combination of carrots, cucumber and super greens you used. I am going to make this for my four year old tomorrow!

  • Hi There Laura,

    Thanks so much! I have to say, I was surprised by how much my kids loved it. And the fruit doesn't totally mask the greens. You still get a taste of the greens, but they aren't as bitter, and there's just enough sweet. It's a nice combo. In the morning I've been throwing in a couple of cubes with 1 cup of dairy free milk and a banana for a quick "pre" breakfast before I take my daughter to school. It feels good to get that burst of nutrients in the morning!

  • gfe--gluten free easilyJanuary 15, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Outstanding post, Amber! Every single person can love green juice combos ... they just need to try them. ;-) Good recipes like yours will really help bring new folks into the fold. I just had a green smoothie for lunch, but often juice is just perfect in its lightness, but super nutrition. I love that it yields enough for a whole month, too! :-)


  • Hi Shirley,

    You're so right. Drinking kale might not sound very appealing, but a little fruit in there makes it taste great and very "drinkable." When my kids like something it's the best seal of approval for me. :-) You have a wonderful rest of your weekend Shirley.

  • I just pulled out my juicer last week and started making green juice with fruit. Love how clean it tastes even though I have to say the color is not all that appealing.

  • Jeanette,

    You're so funny. I know what you mean. It's such a pleasant surprise when you take that first sip. :-)

    Be Well,

  • Hi Amber! Extremely informative post thanks for sharing. Drinking Yakult also gives you more of the good bacteria that may help balance your digestive system.

  • Michelle von DwingeloOctober 27, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    I would assume that it would work just fine with the vitamix instead of juicer?

    1. Sure, if you want a smoothie instead of juice. It's whatever you prefer. Using a blender will yield a thick mixture full of the pulp. A juice will yield just juice.



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