The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle, family time and a host of indulgent treats. While your head and heart maybe be yearning for these yummy foods, our gut is at the receiving end and often experiences the worst discomfort. The increased exposure to carbs, gluten and sugar, coupled with the holiday stress, travel and lack of sleep, can be rough on our bodies and particularly our digestion.
Below are tips from the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association on ways to maintain good gut health this holiday season:
Enjoy the sweets but remember to include nutrient-rich foods like leafy greens, vegetables and clean protein into your meals
If you are craving dessert, eat some. Allow yourself to enjoy a serving of sweets instead of restricting and overindulging later. You can satisfy your taste and curiosity without putting yourself into a blood sugar swing. For snacks and meals, always make sure you have nutrient-rich foods to stabilize your metabolism and blood sugar. Eating protein and fiber helps the sugar to not cause as many problems, alternatives to sugar include stevia, erythritol and xylitol. If you do not get enough nutrients during the day, multivitamins may be another great alternative method to get what your body needs.
Avoid trigger foods that cause inflammation or discomfort
Often it’s not just how much we eat, but what foods cause an inflammatory response in our bodies. If you have done the IgG blood test for food allergies stay away from those. If you have not, avoid common high allergen foods like wheat, dairy, eggs, and yeasts, or any other foods that typically bother you. It’s also helpful to take Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and help to stabilize your brain’s neurotransmitters which in turn may help with depression and anxiety, both of which are high during the holidays.
Make time for movement
Try to include more movement on the days you are more likely to overeat, so you are able burn up some of the extra calories. Aim to be active for one hour by joining your family and friends on a walk, dancing, doing yoga or going on a leisurely bike ride. If you make it part of the day’s plan, everyone will feel better and not have as much food guilt.
Take breaks between the holiday cocktails to hydrate
Drinking a lot of water will not only help with regular body functions, but it will also help you feel full. Try to drink 1-2 more glasses of water than you normally do on days where you’re likely to eat more to help satiate you.
If you are experiencing significant digestive system issues it is important to consult with a doctor. Many licensed Naturopathic Physicians are experts in gut health and brain health and will be able to work with you to treat and identify the cause of your symptoms.
Dr. Donese Worden is a licensed primary care and naturopathic physician and member of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA), a professional organization of Naturopathic Doctors in the state of Arizona. The vision of AzNMA is to ensure the growth of naturopathic medicine through recognition and education. For more information about AzNMA, visit AZNMA.org.