Everyone knows the feeling that comes after eating traditional holiday food. Do you look forward to the food, but dread the aftermath? If this is you during the holidays, or anytime of year, you may benefit from including these simple tips to help support your digestion and feel better after chowing down on those past time favorites.
I know how exciting the holidays can be, or for some, just downright stressful. Either way, this is not how you want to feel before that holiday feast. Your Autonomic Nervous System controls whether your body is in a stressful state: sympathetic mode, or in a restful state: parasympathetic mode. Your sympathetic state is your “flight or fight” response and your parasympathetic is for “resting and digesting”, this is also the mode that our bodies heal in. Digestion does not happen in the presence of stress. So relax, sit, breathe, and give thanks and appreciation to your food and company your with. Take time away from the rest of life stresses when your eating. Your digestion will benefit greatly!
Slow Down and Chew
This rule has the same reasoning as the one above. Slowing down while eating lets our bodies remain in a parasympathetic state and allows us to digest better. The beginning of digestion begins even before your first bite. Just the sight and smell of food alone will start the salivary process which releases enzymes to start the breakdown of sugars in your mouth. This is why you need to chew your food! Mom was right, 30-60 chews depending on what you’re eating. Chewing predigests your food, alleviating the stress on your digestive organs. So remember to put that fork down in between bites. The slower you eat, the more time the hormone leptin has to signal to your brain that your full, as a result you eat less and feel satisfied, not stuffed.
Make Friends With Fermented And Cultured Foods
Do you find that your always craving something sweet after finishing a meal? Incorporating fermented or cultured dishes into your meals not only assists in digestion, but also helps control sweet cravings, and have an array of other benefits. Traditional fermented veggies can be included, such as sauerkraut or pickled beets or carrots, or you can try some fun holiday cultured dishes to tantalize your taste buds.
Scope It Out
Sometimes its better to keep it simple with meals, although that can be challenging during the holidays when we are presented with a variety of foods right in front of us. I suggest to be smart when filling your plate. Search out everything before serving yourself. Choose those dishes you must have, and leave out those you don’t really care for. Start with your plate half filled with veggies and protein, then a quarter filled with those special holiday favorites, and the other quarter filled with a cultured food of your choice. This will give you a nice balance to satisfy your cravings of all foods without overindulging.
Large amounts of liquids with meals can dilute stomach juices, which contains HCL (hydrochloric acid) to aid in digesting protein. To prevent this from happening, minimize the amount of liquids from beverages during meal time. Skip the soft drinks, juices and sugary alcohol beverages and opt for no more than 8oz of warm ginger tea, room temp water with lemon or my favorite, apple cider vinegar, or even a small amount of bone broth can actually assist in digestion. You can enjoy other beverages after or in between meals, but try to avoid consuming them during a meal. If this doesn’t sound like fun, a glass of wine would also be acceptable- Yes, I did just say that. Tis The Season, right? Iron absorption actually increases with alcohol, but decreases in the presence of tannins, so hold off on drinking your kombucha with your turkey if you’re low in iron.
Bring on the FAT!
No surprise here. Low fat/ no fat diets actually make you eat more because the hormone that signals to your brain that your full, never gets released! It also destroys your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, keeping you craving and reaching for more food and sweets without ever being satisfied. It’s a vicious cycle that wont make you feel too good when you finally decide to stop eating. Healthy, high quality fats are needed for this signal to get released. So go ahead and pack an extra pad of butter on those potatoes.
Choose Desserts Wisely
It’s the holidays, enjoy what you’ve been looking forward to most, though be mindful of what you choose. Never eat a dessert that is fat free or you will be on the endless eating roller coaster thanks to the sugar spike. I would also advise to wait a good hour after eating to have dessert. Allow your body to process your meal before loading it with sugar and starch, which can impeded optimal digestion. Keep in mind that sugar in any excess form, natural or not, has health consequences.
Digestive Distress effects millions of people not only during the holidays but all year around. Proper digestion is essential for good health. If you’re struggling with digestion issues, schedule a complimentary phone consult to discuss your concerns, and learn how the correct dietary and nutritional approach can repair your digestive system!