A Guide To Balance: Hangovers, Feasts & Sleepless Nights
Total purity is not an on-going reality for the body – especially not after a long holiday season. Stress happens. Fun happens. Life happens. And along the way, it’s likely that too much food, too much alcohol, or too little sleep happen too. However, we rarely address an out of balance body until it has gone too far. Then we turn to ‘damage control’ and force the body to recuperate.
The answer to this vicious cycle is balance; it’s no good ignoring when we’ve gone too far, only to develop an addiction to purging (fasting, colonics, sweating etc.) as a quick fix. The body is stronger and smarter than we can ever imagine. Forget forcing it into balance or purification – it’s designed to do so itself. We simply need to nudge it in the right direction along the way.
We have all the tools to keep the body in balance on an ongoing basis – so we don’t end up falling too far. There should be no need for said damage control – not even after the holidays - if we learn how to work with the body intelligently. (Yes, you can feel amazing even if you’re eating richer foods and not working out for a week). I’ve collected some powerful and simple Traditional Chinese Medicine tips over time from the Grand Master I train with – and from personal experience, I can tell you they really work.
The night of…
- Eat grapes with your wine. Really. This is said to help the body process the fermented drink.
- Sip some kombucha before you hit the bar - its fermented nature will prepare your stomach for the fun to come.
- Do not skip dinner, in case you haven’t already learned that the hard way…
The morning after…
- Make ginger tea from 3-5 pieces fresh ginger + 1 tbsp honey. Drink warm. This combination helps the stomach and aids the liver’s detoxification process. Honey is also considered an energy tonic that can help strengthen the body in its weaker moments.
- Blend a smoothie including 2 fresh apples - the natural vitamin B in them will help replenish that which the alcohol depleted from you. Add some bananas to this smoothie if you feel heated with a fast heart rate, and some probiotic yoghurt to help your tummy recover.
- Wake up with some green tea - this will help to ease the pressure on the liver, restore balance due to it’s cooling nature, and perk you up so the whole day isn’t a total write-off.
- If you wake up feeling really hot and bothered - watermelon can help cool you down, and simultaneously help the urinary bladder system do its thing. Yes, pee away your night-out. Watermelon also helps the liver detoxify.
- Chrystanthemum tea is also cooling and is said to help you sober up, while aiding the liver.
- This is exactly the right time to squeeze in that massage or acupuncture session you’ve been putting off. Stimulating certain points along specific body meridians can almost instantly cure hangover symptoms like headaches and nausea; and any form of lymphatic stimulation will help get alcohol out of your system faster.
- Soak your feet in hot water before you go to bed at the end of this day. This will help you sleep and release all the stuck energy from your body.
You’re about to feast…
- Eat slowly, chew as long as possible, and remember to put your fork down at times - the food is not going to run away from you. Do what you can to stay present, and absorb the meal without eating too much.
- Sip some black tea throughout the meal to keep the stomach hot and stimulated and help it digest. The stomach has a natural preference for warm drinks.
- Don’t drink too much water - in fact, try not to drink any at all. This will hinder the digestive process.
- Breathe! Remember how your body needs oxygen to function? Digestion is certainly not an exception. The more oxygen the body receives, the better it can metabolize, digest, and process things – (even emotions). Some breathing before or during the meal may help you monitor your intake too.
You ate way too much…
- Don’t seal the meal with fruit as it will ferment in your stomach with the food, and make it very difficult to digest.
- Chew a little radish, daikon or ginger to aid digestion.
- Brew tea from hawthorn berries, or chew them - they are miracle workers when it comes to a bloated and full belly. Since ancient times, they are considered the best relief from food retention and hindered digestion - the berries literally soften the hard mass of food in your stomach!
- Give yourself a gentle stomach massage in a clockwise circular motion, it will help move things along and relieve any pain.
You’re not gonna sleep tonight…
- Eat dinner early (even if you’re going to bed late). Your body will need every second of your short slumber to rest, detoxify and regenerate– if it’s digesting your dinner in that time, chances are you won’t feel rested at all when you wake up.
- Have some chia seeds (in water is fine) before sleep if you’re going to bed at an ungodly hour and know you’ll be up soon. This will keep the large intestine in check and prevent the constipation that is all too common when we sleep too little or travel. When you wake up in the morning, your body will be empty and clean - and your energy won’t be nearly as low as you’d expect.
- TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurveda agree that night time is the period for cleansing and healing the body from the day before – if you’re not going to be resting in these hours, this is the day to take load up on all your favorite detox powders and teas to help maintain that balance.
You didn’t sleep enough. (Or at all)…
- Two words: intermittent napping. It’s as amazing as it sounds. Wake up and work / do your thing for 1-2 hours. Take a half hour nap (set your alarm). Wake up again, move and do what you need to do. Take another half-hour nap. Repeat and modify as needed. It is the best way to compensate for the sleep you lose at night, and minimize stress on the body – should your schedule permit it.
- Green tea, because it’s as detoxifying as it is stimulating.
- Wake up to some ginger beer. Sometimes strong caffeine on a sleepless body is a recipe for jitters and disaster. So a caffeine-free but stimulating alternative like ginger bear is perfect, and it’s also fermented to help the stomach recover from a disoriented sleep schedule.
- Ginseng is also a TCM favorite – make sure you get American Ginseng. It is incredibly stimulating and less of a shock to a sleepy body than a double espresso.
- Add some honey to your morning lemon water to help clean the body out upon waking (chia seeds here will be great too). Again, a clean body doesn’t feel the effects of exhaustion nearly as bad as a congested one.