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Gobbling It Up 

What to do if you overdo

Each year, you swear you won't overdo it. You won't eat 14 helpings of everything on the Thanksgiving table, from the marshmallow/sweet potato casserole to the oyster stuffing to the apple pie. But you do it anyway, don't you? You've probably exacerbated the problem by accompanying your meal with a cocktail or a glass of wine or beer. Or two. Or more. So after the meal, you're not only drowsy from the tryptophan-laden turkey, you're also disgustingly bloated and you wish you could stick a pin in your belly and carom off the walls like a deflating balloon.

What can you do to feel better? There's always well advertised antacids like Maalox or Tums, or heavy-duty Prevacid, Pepcid AC or Tagament. But there are natural ways to spell relief. Some of them might work for you.

Ginger or chamomile in tea or tablet form relieves gas and reduces bloating and pain. Some natural health advisers recommend peppermint tea, but others say to avoid peppermint, as it could allow acid to pass from the stomach to the esophagus - always a fun experience.

Eating bananas can be beneficial in reducing heartburn, but a banana on top of pumpkin pie and espresso with sambuca might be hard to swallow. Chewing on a whole clove could work, as could munching a few sprigs of parsley with a glass of water. You could try a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a celery stalk or a thumb-sized piece of raw potato.

If you can't stomach the idea of consuming anything else, there are some other possible remedies.

First, loosen your belt or any tight clothing. You may look less than spiffy, but you'll feel a lot better. Aromatherapy can relieve a bellyache. Herbal oils can be used in an infusion (steeped in hot water to release the fragrance) or diluted with almond or olive oil and massaged onto the stomach -- try peppermint, marjoram, fennel or coriander. You can also try rubbing on aloe vera gel. A hot water bottle over your liver (the upper right abdomen) helps the liver and gallbladder function better to digest what you've scarfed down.

Don't lie down right after the big meal, but before you finally do roll into bed, raise the head of the bed by about six inches -- this will lessen the pressure on your stomach.

There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that these remedies can work. I'm not swearing by any of them, I'm just offering you some possible alternatives to over-the-counter or prescription medicine.

The best advice comes from Joe Graedon of the People's Pharmacy (www.peoplespharmacy.com or on WFAE on Saturday morning). When I asked him for some natural remedies to Thanksgiving gluttony, he said, "Eat less, savor more." It's worth a try.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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