It’s that time of year again – the holiday “eating season.” And, while lots of people think the holidays are the most wonderful time of year, your gut may disagree. That’s because it’s this time of the year when people flood their system with rich, sugary foods – and that can lead to digestive issues, low immune function, and plenty of weight gain. In fact, Americans gain an average of 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. So how do you avoid stressing your gut out over the holidays?
1. Start smart: Starting each day with a healthy, balanced meal sets a good intention for the day. And if you eat something nourishing first thing, you’re more likely to stay full and energized, and less prone to unhealthy snacking. I like to start the day with seasonal fruit, coconut yogurt, and a Vital Meal Protein Shake – it’s a balance of probiotics, prebiotics, vegan pea protein and powerful nutrients designed to kick-start each day with health.
2. Choose wisely at those holiday parties: That means watching your sugar and carb intake, and paying close attention to what you drink. I like to start my night with a green salad – before I go out – to fill me up a little. It helps me make good choices when I’m out!
And, if you must drink alcohol, don’t go for egg nog, sangria, punch, or other sugar-laced cocktails. Instead, stick to something like antioxidant-rich red wine, or a vodka and soda water. Make sure to drink plenty of water before you drink alcohol – and in between each drink.
3. Pace yourself: Eat slowly, and eat small portions. Wait 20 minutes after the first course (and drink a big glass of water). That way, your gut has time to tell your brain “I’m full!” and you avoid overeating.
4. Help your gut out: This might be the most important tip of all – because here’s the truth: you’re likely going to indulge – at least a little – over the holidays. And that’s fine. After all, fun with friends and family is an amazing way to lift your spirit.
But since it’s the season of indulgence, it’s important to give your digestive system plenty of support. And that means taking two things:
- A probiotic, like Akasha Naturals’ Flora Plus: This helps populate your gut with beneficial bacteria to aid digestion, reduce discomfort and bloating, and keep your energy levels high. Look for a probiotic with at LEAST 15 billion CFUs of live, active cultures – the more the better! And make sure you’re taking in a variety of strains – each has a slightly different function.
- A digestive enzyme: (Digestazyme): This is key for helping your body break down food efficiently so you get the most nutrients possible from your food. Your body makes a certain amount of enzymes on its own, but adding more to the mix – especially if you know you’re going to be eating heavy meals – really helps keep your digestion efficient and comfortable
5. Get moving: – It’s easy to decide that winter is a time to hibernate – after all, when it’s chilly outside, it can be really hard to stay motivated to exercise. But exercise has been shown to be key for helping ease digestion…and, it’s a great way to balance out those heavy meals.
Here’s the great news – you don’t have to train for a marathon to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. You can shovel snow, enjoy a family snowball fight, play a game of football after Thanksgiving dinner, take a couple of extra laps around the mall when you’re holiday shopping… Just make it a point to get moving for at least 20 minutes a day (preferably more), all season long!
Oh, and one other thing: HAVE Fun during the holidays, always remembering to sprinkle it with GRATITUDE. It will add a lot more to your season of lights
Dr. Edison de Mello is the founder and Medical Director of the Akasha Center for integrative Medicine. His signature approach to patient care, “Meet the patient before you meet their disease” has led Akasha to become both nationally and internationally recognized as a model for Integrative Medical care. His unique training in both Clinical Psychology and Integrative Medicine allows Dr. de Mello to see his patients not as broken individuals with a “dis-ease” but a whole person learning to listen to what their bodies need.E