Staying on track and eating healthy during the holiday season can be challenging with all the temptations of food, sweets and alcohol. It can seem like everywhere you turn, you are being offered cookies, cake and candy. Holiday parties and socializing become stressful with the endless abundance of food and buffets. Or you may feel pressured by family members to eat a decadent homemade dish. Before you know it, you’ve gained weight, are dealing with indigestion and feeling fatigued from a sugar/refined carb overload and the lack of nutritious foods.
Holidays don’t have to mean stress, anxiety and indulgence. It’s important to recognize that the holidays are often the only time many families come together. During this time, take a moment and give thanks for what you have and reflect on this past year’s joys. There is so much more that encompasses the holiday season than just indulgent, fat-rich, savory and sugary foods. This is a time to reflect and express gratitude for what is good in your life. Keep this in mind when the bustle of the holidays overwhelms you.
And for those moments when temptation may get the best of you in the next few weeks, use these Happy Gut tips to feel good and stay healthy throughout the holiday season!
7 Happy Gut Holiday Tips
Stay Hydrated – Make sure you drink plenty of water. When it gets cooler out, and the dry heat turns on, you may not realize how much fluid you’re losing to the environment when you breathe and talk. It’s easy to dehydrate, drinking coffee and forgetting to drink enough water. Often times, we even confuse hunger or fatigue for thirst, leading you to over-consume simple sugars and refined starches when simply hydrating would help your body feel balanced. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology released a study indicating that drinking water can help increase metabolic rate. This is good news for those of you looking to support your body’s metabolic needs and maintain a healthy weight.1 Not to mention, a warm cup of water with lemon is a great way to naturally stimulate the body’s detoxification and digestion processes.
Eliminate Added Sugars and Processed Ingredients – It may seem like the apple pie or sugar cookies are calling your name, but once you have that first bite you won’t be able to resist. The best way to avoid them is to not have them. Resist the urge to indulge in these highly processed foods. Sugar is like cocaine to the brain. It stimulates the same brain regions as the drug. In addition, many desserts are filled with processed sugar and grains that can leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated.
Stabilize Blood Sugar – Never go to a holiday party hungry. Prior to leaving for a big holiday meal, eat a snack with healthy fats and protein to ensure stable blood sugar levels.2 Showing up famished and “hangry” to a party will lead you to overeat, and you’re sure to not make the healthiest choices. When your blood sugar drops, you will crave refined starches (like bread, rice, and pasta) and sweets. Choose a low-carb snack like a hard-boiled egg with nut butter, carrot sticks with hummus, or even a few avocado slices drizzled with Himalayan sea salt and olive oil, prior to heading out to the holiday party.
Stay Active – Just because it’s the holidays, there is no reason to stop your daily exercise routine. Before you start the day, get out in nature for a brisk walk, do your favorite yoga routine or find the right exercise that works for you. Break a sweat! Better yet, after a holiday meal, take a 15 – 20 minute walk with the family to digest your holiday dinner.
“Mocktail, Please!” – The other side of holiday indulgence involves imbibing, not just eating. Too much alcohol can equally wreak havoc on your health, just as the wrong food choices can. Instead, opt for soda water with bitters and mashed berries. Bitters help stimulate your digestive juices, so you can break down and absorb your food better. This drink is guilt free, low in sugar, and promotes a healthy, happy gut. Even better, it looks like a fancy cocktail, but without the booze or hangover.
Support Digestion Before, During and After – Regardless of staying on track and doing your best during the holiday season, you may indulge in a few larger meals. In an attempt to not feel completely stuffed and uncomfortable, try a digestive enzyme. Take the enzyme 15 – 20 minutes prior to each large meal. A favorite product of mine is our Happy Gut Activate enzymes–a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement.
Slow Down – During your meal, practice mindfulness by being fully present. Enjoy the experience at the table, socialize, and eat slowly. Try resting your fork between bites and chewing thoroughly. Eating at a slower pace gives your stomach the time it needs to signal your brain that it is full. Try to stop when you are seventy-five percent full. This will decrease your chances of overeating.
After the meal, if you still feel like you may have overeaten, opt for a warm cup of ginger or peppermint tea to soothe your belly and decrease discomfort.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find these tips helpful throughout the next few weeks!
For more help rebooting your gut health after the holidays, check out my 3-Day Gut Reboot Diet. It’s a quick way to reset your gut health when overindulgence has gotten the better of you.