I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. I really love this holiday, because it’s a time when we slow down and spend some time with our families. This is something we don’t do enough, as a society. When we take time to be together and to stop our normal routine for just a day or so, we give our bodies and minds the chance to recover from the constant pull to achieve and strive. A strong sense of community and family nourishes us as much as the delicious foods of the season.
On that note, I would guess you’ve experienced the sensation of being overly full, having eaten too much of that delicious, rich holiday food.
Chinese nutritional recommendations suggest that one eats until 70% full, acknowledging that the brain and belly are sometimes out of sync, and that it can take some time to perceive that you have had enough. When you eat too much, you get that feeling of fullness, distension of your belly, and mind-fog that come along with “Thanksgiving Dinner Syndrome.” You may also feel tired and heavy.
From a Chinese medical standpoint, this is what happens when your Spleen Qi is over-taxed. The Spleen (perhaps Pancreas through a different translation) is responsible for transforming food into flesh and blood and Qi energy. The Qi of the Spleen is also said to hold the flesh taut and to focus the intention, or Yi. When you give your Spleen too much to do (for example, 7 ounces of turkey, 4 ounces of mashed potatoes, 4 ounces of stuffing, a large piece of pie, and ice-cream), you may find yourself feeling heavy and tired, and unable to focus your intention, classic “The Itits” symptoms. When you drop so much into the Spleen's lap, it takes time for it to work through it, and the food gets stuck in your belly while the Spleen tries to catch up. Working so hard for so long, the Spleen's Qi is weakened. The Spleen is also harmed by excessive sitting, over-worrying, and excessive consumption of sweets - so, Thanksgiving Dinner is the perfect storm for a Spleen Qi issue. Try going for a short walk after eating, skipping dessert most days, and eating a more appropriate quantity to combat “the itis,” and thank your Spleen for all the hard work it does (especially around the holidays!). Take time to relax your mind and leave behind the worries of daily life, and maybe your Spleen will thank you!