Instead of reaching for the antacids this holiday season, consider a natural way to spell digestive relief. (Hint: it’s not spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S.)

Many of my clients greatly improve their digestion by following a few simple strategies:

1) Taking a momement to be grateful before eating,

2) Chewing thoroughly, and

3) Relaxing during meals

These strategies are all a part of cephalic (see-fal-ic) digestion. Amazingly, this “preparation” phase contributes 20% of our digestive secretions, which includes saliva, stomach acid and digestive enzymes. These secretions are critical for proper digestive function.

The mere anticipation and smell of food shifts the body into a state of readiness to digest. In short, your digestive tract begins to respond to your meal even before any food leaves your mouth. Imagine biting into a lemon and sense your mouth beginning to water. That’s pretty cool stuff!

Unfortunately, when we eat under stress, fail to chew properly, eat too quickly or fail to be mindful we bypass the cephalic phase of digestion almost entirely and negatively impact every other phase of digestion. Proper chewing alone can reduce gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Remember the last time you ate under stress and gluped down your food? Chances are your meal sat like a rock in your gut.

The holidays are a great time to work on improving cephalic digestion. Take a moment to be grateful before meals –however that looks for you and your family. Sit down at a table to eat and chew thoroughly. Enjoy your meal and your dining companions. Your gut will thank you – no antacids needed!

Until next time, make every bite count!