Do you fear developing your own little round belly,that gurgles like a bowlful of jelly this holiday season? So many good things come with this time of year, especially when it comes to food. Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes made into magical sugar covered dishes, decorative cookies, pies, and tarts. So many mouthwatering foods to choose from, how could one possibly say no to any of it! Let’s be honest here, it would just be rude to not try out all the tantalizing dishes people have taken time to lovingly prepare. So what’s a person to do to make it through the holiday season with a healthy digestive system?
Obviously, moderation is the key. Why not try out a variety of foods, but dial back on your serving sizes of each dish, so you won’t feel stuffed like the Christmas bird when you’re done the meal. If there are foods that you know reek havoc on your digestive system politely bow away from those dishes and save yourself the agony later.
Athletes wouldn’t head to a big sporting event without preparing their body before hand to ensure they perform at their best. If your holiday feasting feels like a test of endurance for your stomach, then spend some time preparing your system before hand. No, this doesn’t mean eating multiple large turkey dinners leading up to the big day to get your stomach used to the larger meal size.
All of the following suggestions are great to do on a daily basis all year round and are especially helpful to use during the weeks leading up to and including the holidays.
For starters – begin your days with a mug of hot water with fresh lemon juice. This simple drink gives a kick start to your digestive system. The bitterness of the lemon juice stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and prepares the organs to breakdown the food you eat. Lemon also helps the liver to detoxify.
Herbs are a great way to help support the digestive system on a daily basis and are very beneficial when used in the form of a tea. Teas such as Ginger, Peppermint and Fennel are all great ones to enjoy after your meal. They each have their own unique qualities to help you digest better and reduce post-meal gas and bloating. Fennel helps to decrease fullness and flatulence after eating. Peppermint improves digestion overall and eases nausea and gas. This great tea choice also fights bad breath! Ginger tea helps to settle an upset stomach, along with helping the digestive process by reducing inflammation.
In general, it’s good practice to avoid drinking while you are eating, since the extra liquid you’re taking in will dilute the hydrochloric acid your stomach is producing, as well as your digestive enzymes. Stomach acid and enzymes are needed to breakdown our food into the smallest pieces possible. Our food needs to be in this tiny form in order for the body to access and absorb the nutrients found in the foods we eat. When we don’t have enough enzymes, or they’ve been diluted by liquid, our food remains in large chunks as it goes through the digestive tract leading to gas and bloating as our intestines try to deal with food in a form that it’s not used to. Save the liquids for later!
A digestive enzyme supplement can be taken before eating to help ease the burden of a large meal or you can stimulate your digestive organs to produce more of their own enzymes by using apple cider vinegar. Ask your ND about this one!
Another great practice leading up to the holidays was the sole topic of my last article in “Nourish” magazine – probiotics. These beneficial bacteria help keep the tissues of the digestive tract healthy and functioning optimally. Probiotics reduce food sensitivity reactions and they also are an important part of a strong immune system – an added bonus at this time of year!
Lastly, the simplest way to significantly improve digestion is to thoroughly CHEW your food. Food should be in a liquid state before you swallow. Give your digestive system a gift this holiday season and slowdown when you eat, enjoy the company of those around you and chew!