‘Tis the season for overeating. And eating foods that are greasy, rich and hard on our systems. And stress. And drinking. And a million other factors that can make you feel not-so-great, especially when it comes to digestion. Whether holiday jitters are giving you an upset tummy, or you’re just feeling a little queasy after overdoing it the neighbors’ Christmas party, here are 11 ways to start feeling better almost immediately.
12 Upset Tummy Remedies
Peppermint is notorious for settling an upset tummy, and can also help if you have indigestion or nausea. It has antispasmodic properties that calm you and your digestive system down. A cup of mint tea is great for this, but you can also try taking a whiff of peppermint essential oil or—if you’re in a pinch—chew on some mint gum or suck on a piece of mint candy.
If your tummyache is due to overdoing it on rich foods, not getting enough fiber, or drinking too much, a spoonful of yogurt or a sip of kefir should help get your gut’s bacteria back in balance. I swear by ginger kombucha when I’m nauseous or queasy. If you’re up to eating, a couple bites of kimchi or fermented veggies can also help.
3. White Rice or Rice Tea
Normally we’d be telling you stick to brown rice, but if your stomach is topsy-turvy and you’re hitting the bathroom more than you’d like, bland, white rice helps calm down, and soak up extra liquid in, your digestive system without shocking it by adding too much fiber. If you don’t feel like eating, you can drink rice tea, which is the water left over from cooking rice (start with twice the water you normally would so you have water left).
4. Burnt Toast
This theory applies to toast, too. Toast a piece of white bread until it’s charred and eat it plain. The science behind it is unclear, but many sources claim the char on the toast helps soak up the toxins that are making you feel icky.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
In addition to evening out skin and combatting fruit flies (and many other uses), apple cider vinegar can alleviate stomach cramping and heartburn. ACV alone on an empty stomach can make you feel temporarily worse, so you may want to dilute it in water if you haven’t been eating much.
Fennel is often used in Chinese medicine to cure stomachaches; in India, the seeds are chewed after meals to improve digestion. Crush up a teaspoon of seeds, or opt for a cup of fennel tea or a fennel capsule. Bonus: It also freshens breath!
7. Fizzy Water
This is my go-to when I’m a little nauseous, overate, or just don’t quite feel right in the tummy area. Carbonation can have the opposite effect for some people (especially if you’re also bloated or gassy) though, so this method may require a little trial and error. Caution: It will make you burp—a lot!
Bananas (especially ones that are a little green) are extremely easy to digest and contain pectin (which helps get digestion back on track), making them perfect for when you’re queasy. I’ve known many mothers of toddlers who swear by green bananas when their little ones have a stomachache.
Nausea doesn’t stand a chance against ginger’s healing properties. Remember when your mom would give you ginger ale to settle your stomach? A cup of ginger tea, or chewing on a piece of candied or fresh ginger, works even better. (Better than Dramamine according to some studies!)
If you’re experience stomach cramps or indigestion, the anti-inflammatory properties in a cup of chamomile tea will soothe your stomach lining and calm the muscles near your digestive system. It’ll also help you sleep if your stomachache is keeping you up at night.
11. Fenugreek Seeds
Heartburn and constipation are all treated with fenugreek seeds, which are full of antioxidants and fiber to keep your digestion happy and healthy. Sip a cup of fenugreek tea, sprinkle a teaspoon of seeds on your food, or take it in capsule or liquid form.
If you’re constipated or having cramps, a heating pad (set on medium) or a hot water bottle will help move things along and relax the muscles in your abdominal area. Try castor oil packs when you’re feeling better (and not menstruating or pregnant) and see if things improve overall—you might find you experience less indigestion and digestive upset.212