How to Recover From 3 Helpings of Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Lauren Eats Way Too Much On Easter Sunday: A Parable

My husband’s side of the family celebrates Easter, and they do it well. Everyone arrives in their dapper best and crowds the kitchen to catch up on the past 6 months. Kids bearing chocolate eggs zip to and fro in a sugar-induced madness. And since this isn’t a day for politics, laughter swells and fills the room. Everyone is happy to share this day with loved ones, and though the story behind the holiday is acknowledged on an individual basis, gratitude for friends, family, and food is palpable.

The food was especially abundant this Easter, and I was shamelessly abundanting. Without going into the details of every glistening/frosted/steaming plate that covered the kitchen counter, let’s just say that every single option was decadent. I enjoyed a small taste of everything. And then a bigger taste of everything.

Ok, fine. I totally pigged out.


Though I normally fuel my earth-suit with a mostly plant-based diet,  I do occasionally take a break from my plant friends to party with the Meaty n’ Buttered. Besides, it was beautiful outside, and since 300 eggs were hidden in the back yard, I figured I’d run around after lunch and digest my 3rd serving of cheesy scalloped potatoes.

Well, I was painfully wrong.

For the next couple of days, my spleen had a major hissy fit (that is, spleen from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine). I was left with a puffy face and cloudy brain. My joints ached. I had nightmares.  My throat began to hurt. Most of all, I was super disappointed that I reacted so strongly to a single afternoon of rich food. At some point, I closed my eyes and sent a not-nice message to my digestive center: C’mon, digestion! Stop being such a baby!!

As you might assume, calling my digestion “a baby” didn’t help. At all. It continued to howl and bare it’s claws and showed me that if it was “a baby,” well then, it was Rosemary’s baby.

Tuesday morning (a WHOLE TWO days since Easter), I still felt like crap. I woke up to a boring sensation in my gut that made me wonder if my stomach was trying to eat itself.  Intuitively, I began rubbing my abdomen in a large counter-clockwise circle. It felt good, and it relaxed me enough to think straight for a second. A revelation came screaming from the depths of my digestive muck. You know how to fix this, you loonbag! You do this for a living! 

Oh, right.

Anyway, long story short. I did some things and I felt better. Here’s what I did.

5 Simple Ways to Reset Your Digestion

1. I made kicharee. Then I ate it for breakfast and lunch for the next two days. Kicharee is yummy and easy on the digestion. It’s the ultimate dish when you’re looking to recover from a food hangover. Carrot-Ginger Soup is another option. Carrots are easy to digest (especially in this form, boiled to tenderness) and the addition of lemon and ginger will further help your digestion.

2. I ate my probiotics. I made sure to add live, raw, fermented veggies to my diet. In other words, I ate my probiotics for the next couple of days. Whole Foods in Portland has a section (near the produce) of raw, live fermented veggies – kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, carrots, and beets. Rosemont Market also stocks “living” veggies. I had a small amount of brown rice topped with Sunja’s Radish kimchi for my daily snack.

3. I made a soothie.  I mean a smoothie. Since my digestion was feeling okay by the 3rd day, I had a smoothie for dinner. Kale, blueberry, sunflower seeds, date paste, and fresh lemon juice. It was cooling and detoxifying and delicious. Smoothies are excellent when you have damp-heat in the Spleen due to eating rich foods, but if your digestion is constitutionally weak (and you get chilled easily), they can be too cold and worsen your digestion.

4. I took Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang.  In other words, I took my Chinese herbs to further help my spleen recover. This particular formula is suited for my constitution and also treated my digestive distress. See a certified Chinese herbalist to figure out a good formula for you.

5. I rubbed my belly. A lot. Every morning, and every night, I rubbed my abdomen in counter-clockwise or clockwise motion (counter-clockwise “disperses” and is better for the acute gut-bomb sensation, clockwise is better for the uncomfortable wake that can follow). I also did a two minute deep-breathing meditation before eating anything bigger than a snack. This always helps me relax, and chew my food properly rather than tossing it down the gullet, pelican-style.

Here’s what I could have done to prevent shutting down my digestion, and what I PROMISE I WILL REMEMBER in the future, now that I’ve been humbled.

3 Easy Ways To Avoid Gut-Bombing Yourself

Let’s be realistic. I know you may be a disciplined person. But who can actually say that this has never happened to them? (You are disqualified if you live on a monastery.)

No one! Good. Check out these three things you can do to make sure a moment of indulgence won’t bring you so far down.

1. Digestive bitters before your meal. Add a teaspoon of digestive bitters to sparkling water and sip to completion before you eat. It’s a great way to stimulate digestion, and especially helpful if you’re going to eat a meal that includes anything “heavy” (i.e. always carry bitters in your purse during the holidays). Angostura bitters can be found at most grocery stores. Urban Moonshine also has a selection of excellent organic bitters. Digestive bitters, in this form, are also good after a heavy meal.

2. Have Bao He Wan in your purse. I adore this formula. The translation is “Preserve Harmony Pill” though one of my favorite acupuncturists refers to it as “Digest The Mess.” Bao He Wan is a formula to assist the digestion of foods that are difficult on the spleen/stomach (sugary, oily, meaty, cheesy scalloped potato-y). I made the tea from granules – but I’m hard core. A lot of people don’t like the taste. Bao He Wan is available in pill form if you’re a big baby.

3. Fill your plate with veggies so there is less room for the wonderfully cheesy scalloped potatoes. On most holiday gatherings, I purposefully bring a giant cookie sheet of roasted root veggies. Everyone loves them, and it provides the option of something healthful and spleen-loving to fill some serious space on your plate! Once you make these roasted plants the centerpiece of your plate, you can decorate the edges with cheesy scalloped potatoes.