12 What helps digestion after over-eating

What helps digestion after over-eating?

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

11 February 2021

What helps digestion after over-eating?

Everyone overeats once in a while. Here I aim to help you limit some of the discomfort of overindulging by revealing some dos and don'ts if you've overeaten recently. For example, you should:

  1. Relax
  2. Consider how you eat
  3. Plan your next meal
  4. Have some bitter herbs
  5. Move a little
  6. Support your system with prebiotics

And you should try not to:

  1. Drink too much shortly after
  2. Lie down

I help divulge these tips in more detail so that you can help your digestion now and in the future.

Digestive dos:

1. Relax

Rather than stress or worry about a little overindulgence, relaxing is actually the best thing you can do if you've recently eaten a little too much. This shouldn't be a cause for major concern anyway – everyone overeats once in a while and the aim is to have a healthy relationship with food rather than anything obsessive. A little bit of anything, once in a while, is absolutely fine, however, if we continually eat too much it could start to put a bit more pressure on our digestive system.

So, if you have overindulged, it's definitely time to relax rather than stress about it. By getting into a relaxed state this will actually help your digestion work better. This helps initiate your parasympathetic nervous system which, in turn, will aid the workings of your digestive system. On the other hand, if you're overly stressed about something, it can risk slowing your digestive processes further and you could be left feeling uncomfortably full for longer.

My advice is to get comfy. This includes wearing comfy clothes that give your tummy room to stretch – this will, quite literally, help give it the necessary room to get those digestive juices flowing freely! Sit up straight rather than slumping, but don't be tempted to lie down just yet (I explain why a little later on).

2. Consider how you eat

Whilst the initial discomfort of eating too much will eventually pass, it might be useful to better consider how you actually eat to help avoid a repeat episode in the near future.

Did you know that eating more mindfully could help to reduce symptoms of overindulgence or indigestion? This means paying more attention to how you eat and aiming to eat slower and more purposefully. One of the simplest and easiest ways to put this into practice is by becoming more conscious of your chewing.

Not only will chewing well aid your digestion by increasing the surface area of the particles going into the stomach, but it will also slow down the eating process more generally, allowing you to notice that you are full quicker, before it's too late and you are left feeling a bit bagged up.

3. Plan your next meal

I'm a keen advocate of meal planning – this can help ensure you eat well, reduce food waste and ultimately save money too! So, even if you've recently eaten a bit more than normal, it certainly doesn't mean you should stop planning your next meal - and definitely don't consider skipping any meals as a result of this. This could risk getting you into a precarious cycle of skipping and binging, which certainly won't do your health any favours in the long-term.1

So, plan your next meal as normal, and ensure it contains some healthy fats, as well as a good source of fibre. Both these dietary components will help to encourage the contents of your digestive system to move along – we don't want any backlogs! And you'll feel all the better for it too.

4. Have some bitter herbs

If you're after a remedy to help quell any digestive discomfort, then bitter herbs are the way to go. Ever heard of a Digestif? This is a small, bitter tipple (alcoholic) that was consumed traditionally after a large meal.

Whilst we don't encourage overindulging in the alcohol department, the bitterness part certainly rings true. See, bitterness helps to stimulate your digestive processes, meaning you can work on digesting what you've already eaten, help to move things along a bit, and prepare your system for the next influx of food whilst you're at it.

Digestisan contains a delicate combination of helpful bitters including dandelion, artichoke and boldo, as well as peppermint, and can be taken before or after eating.

A.Vogel Digestisan Oral Drops

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5. Move a little

Whilst it's important to relax, at least initially after eating, moving may also be beneficial to help spur your digestion into action, plus, moving doesn't necessarily have to be stressful – right?

Gentle movement such as going for a walk can help to gently massage your digestive system into action. This is important since only part of the digestive process is chemical, whilst the other part relies on movement. As food waste moves along the latter stages of the digestive tract, gastric emptying further up can occur more effectively. Plus, efficient gastric emptying also encourages movement further down. So, the whole system works nicely in sync, if we let it, and moving more can help to encourage just that.

Some gentle exercise will also require some energy, this means that if you've over indulged a little you can dip into those energy stores which will help encourage healthier fat metabolism and blood sugar responses in the long-run – a good habit to get into!

6. Support your system with prebiotics

Another step you can take which will certainly prove even more useful if you're able to keep it up in the long-term is sampling a prebiotic tonic. Options such as our Molkosan, or even a good quality apple cider vinegar, are famously hailed as prebiotics. They are delightfully acidic in nature and for this reason, perfect for supporting the internal environment of our large intestine.

Our large intestine should ideally maintain a low pH as this helps to support the balance of the good bacteria that reside there. These little critters are super important for supporting the metabolism of sugars and starches that we obtain from our diet. If the balance of bacteria isn't quite right, some tell-tale signs can include bloating, flatulence or discomfort arising sometime after eating.

Next, onto the digestive don’ts:

1. Drink water

Now, this tip has to be taken into context. Of course, I'm a huge advocate of drinking plenty of water, however, the key is not to drink too much alongside a meal or even very shortly afterwards. The reason being? This will only risk diluting your all-important digestive juices.

Your stomach is normally very good at producing gastric juices which are exactly the correct strength to breakdown the foods we eat. Certain practices can hinder this efficient process, such as taking acid-reducing medications such as PPIs, stress and, to a lesser extent, guzzling too many liquids with your meals.

So, as much as water is important, my advice is to restrain from drinking at least 20 minutes on either side of your latest meal in order to let your digestive juices get to work.

Watch my self-care tip video for more on this:

My Self-Care Tip: Drink plenty of water, but not with your meals

Here I explain why refraining from drinking too much alongside your meals could help support your digestion.

Also, it goes without saying that you should stick to plain, still water or a digestive-supporting herbal tea option such as peppermint, soon after eating. Anything with added sugar, sweeteners or bubbles will only risk leaving you feeling more bagged up than ever, and in need of ever further digestive support.

2. Lie down

Again, while relaxing is good, lying down - not so much. That is, quite soon after eating. If you lie down gravity will be working against you and, especially if you routinely struggle with issues such as acid reflux or heartburn, you could end up quite uncomfortable. So, it's best to remain upright for at least a few hours after eating.

That's why it's also advisable to eat your bigger meal a little earlier in the day and at least 3-4 hours before retiring to bed for the night, so that your digestion has done most of the hard work before lying down.


1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0741832920303062


A.Vogel Digestisan Oral Drops


£ 11.99

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I recommend:

Digestisan Oral Drops: A traditional herbal medicinal product used for indigestion, sensation of fullness and flatulence associated with over-indulgence in food or drink, or both, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.
Always read the leaflet.

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