How to ‘survive’ the festive season?

How to ‘survive’ the festive season?

With the onset of the Chinese New Year season, the ‘sin’ of gluttony is here once again. Our affluent lifestyle turns every festive season into an overindulgence and gluttony affair.


I am not implying that we should not enjoy ourselves with nice food. The real problem is overeating. As mentioned in my book Leaf to Life, moderation is the first key to good health.  Perhaps the Chinese tradition of eating vegetarian meals on the first day of the New Year is meant to prepare ourselves physically and mentally, so that we can set good resolutions for the New Year.


How can we enjoy ourselves and at the same time minimise or be free from all the discomforts and fatigue associated with all the visitations, eating and drinking?


First of all, abide by these eating habits –

  • Do not drink water during and immediately after a meal. If you wish, drink water an hour or so after the meal.
  • Eat the protein part of the meal first.
  • Do not eat heavy protein such as pork, chicken, eggs and cheese with concentrated starches such as bread, rice and noodles. When you cannot avoid mixing (as in much of Chinese dining), eat plenty of raw vegetables to assist in digestion.
  • Do not take dairy-related products with heavy protein such as meat. Milk is a food and not a drink. This is why cheese with oysters is a bad combination.
  • Do not eat more than one protein at a single meal. Therefore you are asking for stomach trouble if you eat chicken, fish and pork all at the same meal.
  • Fat and protein taken together is a poor combination. For example meat fried in oil. Drink fennel tea or Chinese pu er if you need to eat them. Fennel will aid in digestion of fats and protein.
  • Try to avoid sweet and starchy desserts immediately after a large meal of carbohydrates such as rice, noodles and concentrated protein such as fish, eggs, chicken and pork and beef. However, if you need to eat in this manner, take them with digestive herbs such as fennel tea,
  • Eat fruits as a separate meal and not together with the main meal
  • Don’t eat too fast; chew your food
  • Laughing and singing after meals is good for digestion


The above may sound difficult for many of us as we may not be in control of the eating situation during celebration. Herbs to the rescue!



My number choice for good digestion is the humble fennel. Crush the seeds into powder and make a tea infusion – ½ a teaspoon in a cup. Take it with your meal or drink it before to stimulate digestive enzymes. Fennel helps to digest protein and fats. An infusion with ginger will also help in easing hangover. Another useful herb is rose petals.

You can also take the Virita fennel tablets before a meal to improve digestion. Unlike normal fennel seeds, the tablet is made from bitter fennel which is found to be even more effective than sweet fennel.

Fennel tea gargle is also good for treating bad breath as a result of too much heavy protein, meat and processed foods or simply chew the tablets.



Rosemary is wonderful for the heart and the stomach. This can help in easing digestive headache as a result of heavy eating. Place 100g of dried rosemary leaves in white wine and let it stay for 7 to 15 days. Take a tablespoon of it during a meal. This is a healthier wine to serve your guest.



Use galangal as an infusion, steeped for an hour and drink it to ease cramps, indigestion, and nausea. Galangal is especially suitable for those with a ‘cold’ stomach. I prefer galangal to ginger as it has a more gentle action on your stomach. Heart pain and attack can happen after a heavy or unhealthy meal. Galangal is the first aid remedy to prevent a heart pain or attack. You can also chew the galangal tablets, which contain more than 3% essential oils. This extract is very effective to prevent heart pain or attack.



If your stomach is working overtime, it is time for some cinnamon tea. Use six bruised cinnamon sticks per 500ml of boiled water, steeped for about an hour. You may add some honey to taste.



Make an infusion of 1 cup of fresh leaves with 500ml of boiled water. Basil uplifts your spirit and dispels moodiness. Add the fresh leaves to your noodles, rice meals to aid in digestion.



Garlic is my favourite natural ‘antibiotic’ and anti-bacteria agent. If you suffer from suspected food poisoning, don’t hesitate to use our friend garlic. Take fresh, peeled, whole garlic cloves. For that matter, it can save your life before the doctor arrives. Note: don’t use garlic honey as worms love sugar. Alternatively you can use the Garlic forte from my clinic to treat severe food poisoning. Garlic oil is not suitable and effective to treat food poisoning.


If you suffer from a cold with white running mucus as a result of overeating, put a few drops of onion juice in hot water and inhale the aroma. Take a garlic clove before bed.


About Sebastian Liew

Matthew Wood, the renowned American herbalist described Sebastian as ‘one of the most unique and talented practitioners of natural healing and herbalism.’ The New Paper (Singapore) called Sebastian Liew 'The Medicine Man'. Indeed, Sebastian is a qualified and registered Medical Herbalist (accredited by the National Herbalists Association of Australia), with a Master's degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of New England, Australia. He is the first medical herbalist in Singapore and is known to popularize phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine), European traditional medicine, and St Hildegard medicine (Germany) in Singapore and probably in Asia. Sebastian has 20 years clinical work experiences and treated numerous patients with different medical conditions from all age groups in his Singapore clinic. Sebastian authored the book, Leaf to Life: The Natural Approach to Slow Down Aging and Living a Healing Life, which set the fundamentals for healthy aging and the prevention or treatment for almost all diseases.
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