Love Your Guts
Plan to finish eating dinner three hours before bedtime. Sleeping with a full belly can give you indigestion and acid reflux, and lead to weight gain—metabolism slows during sleep so you're more likely to store the calories as fat.
|6:30–8:00 P.M.||DINNER MENU
"Eat smaller portions at each meal; they are easier to digest because your body has a limited supply of digestive enzymes for each meal," says Anne Louise Gittleman, author of The Gut Flush Plan.
|1. Four ounces of grilled chicken rubbed with garlic and dried oregano and tenderized in lime juice.
BENEFITS: Chicken is a good source of protein; garlic and oregano are antibacterial and lime juice contains the antioxidant vitamin C.
2. Bake half an acorn squash topped with 1 teaspoon of flax oil, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed fennel seed, and a dash of cardamom.
BENEFITS: Flax oil provides fiber and omega–3s; fennel seeds aid in digestion; and cardamom is a warming, calming herb.
3. Add 2 cups of spinach greens sautéed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon crushed garlic.
BENEFITS: Spinach greens are high in magnesium, a detoxification agent, and olive oil lubricates the intestines.
4. A half–cup of sauerkraut, seasoned with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds.
BENEFITS: Fermented food like sauerkraut provides good bacteria to repopulate the gut, and caraway seeds are antispasmodic and relieve gas.
5. One-quarter cup crystallized ginger or ginger root tea (try Alvita Ginger Root Tea; see houseofnutrition.com).
BENEFITS: Ginger aids digestion and reduces both pregnancy–related nausea and motion sickness (one study showed it worked better than Dramamine to combat seasickness).
Take a fiber supplement like Metamucil, Konsyl, or Citrucel.
Fiber supplements help the growth of beneficial bacteria and the GI tract (which in turn can improve nervous and immune–system functioning); they also soften and bulk up stool, and act like a sponge, mopping up and expelling toxins. Start with half the dosage to allow the microbes in your body to adjust (otherwise you might get gassy and crampy). Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
|7:00–9:00 P.M.||EXERCISE: Take a 20–minute post–supper stroll around your neighborhood with the dog and kids (or partner and friends). Exercise gets everything moving. It's great for the lymphatic system, which is the body's natural garbage disposal. The downtime is also a natural stress reducer, which further improves digestion," says nutritionist Anne Louise Gittleman.|
|9:00 P.M.||Do a belly rub. Lie on your back on your bed and apply moderate pressure clockwise in a square, starting just above your right hip bone, sweeping up and across just below the breast, then down to just above the left hip bone, and back around. Repeat the sweep three times, always clockwise. Or, apply a hot–water bottle over the abdomen for 5 to 10 minutes and reheat and repeat if necessary. "Heat from a belly rub or a hot-water bottle can kick the digestive organs into high gear, easing gas, cramps, and other symptoms," says Steve Meyerowitz, author of Food Combining and Digestion (Sprout House, 2002).|
Get at least seven hours of sleep each night or you risk throwing off your metabolism. To ensure a good night's sleep, avoid eating spicy foods, and close the kitchen two to four hours before bedtime. A study in Sleep showed that people who snoozed less than six hours put on more pounds over 13 years than those who slept seven. That's because sleep triggers the release of leptin, a hormone that controls body fat by signaling that we're full.