Digestion Tip of the Month: Keep “Balanced” During the Holidays!

IMG_0863We all enjoy the holiday season, and with good reason. The holidays bring out the best in us. Festivities, parties, twinkling lights, gifts, and a shared sense of giving back to our communities fill us with a joy that many miss the other ten months of the year.

But with the good comes the bad, and during the holidays it tends to be the gorging of food that becomes our number one nemesis.  Food symbolizes unity and during the holidays it becomes our focus. From sugars and butter to chocolates and over-eating, we “allow” this gorging during the holidays and promise to burn it off after New Years; which almost always translates into that “New Year’s Resolution.”

Instead of promising to get back to the gym after the holidays, use these five tips to stay balanced during the holidays.

First- regulate when you can:

We know that from Halloween until New Years there are going to be parties, work dinners, and snacks brought into the office. Be mindful of what you have coming up during the holiday season and allow yourself room to eat that fudge at a work party or the many cocktails and hor d’oeuvres on a Friday night gathering. Focus on foods such as vegetables, spinach and high proteins during breakfast and lunch. “Bag a snack” so that when you find yourself reaching for that cookie or fudge sitting across the aisle from you at work, you instead reach for the celery stick, carrots or dried cherries you brought in. This allows you to feed that craving in a healthy way and leaves room for you to enjoy your indulgences at your Christmas work party.

Why put off going to the gym for three months?

Many of us (yes I’m guilty of this too,) decide to “take a break” from our normal work out routines to feast as much as possible during the holidays. We get “wrapped up” in shopping, parties, traveling, decorating and the holiday rush and put off going to the gym; using the excuse “Well I’m going to be putting on winter weight anyway, I’ll get back to the gym after the holidays.” Thanksgiving usually spurs this momentum, and it’s Thanksgiving where we tend to over-eat more than any other holiday. Stick to your work out plan as much as possible during the holiday season- even better INCREASE your work out to give you that extra space for all your upcoming festivities. If you normally work out three days a week- increase it to four! If you don’t have time to go to the gym more, then try working out an extra day or two from home. You don’t always need weights to get a great work out and burn calories. Dynamic tension utilizes your own body weight to work out. Core exercises, arm circles and yoga are all great extra work outs you can add from the comfort of your own home.

Get to know your body:

Planning ahead and being mindful of how your body reacts to certain foods can give you a leg up in keeping balanced during the holiday season. If certain sugars, alcohol or saturated fats make you feel puffy, bloated, or sluggish then plan your festivities accordingly. For example, if you have a holiday party coming up on a Friday after work, then for three days before add extra probiotics to your diet. Yogurt is a great natural digestive enzyme that helps keep your regular and decreases bloating and heartburn. Rich foods can cause issues like gall stones and gout; eating foods such as cherries/dried cherries, beans and cranberry juice (not from concentrate) may prevent these issues.

Trick your system:

Eat before you go to that party to feel fuller. Snacking on celery, nuts or carrots will make you feel full and reduce the amount of food you eat at the party. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, and when drinking alcohol substitute sparkling water every so often. The carbonation will make you feel fuller and reduce the amount of alcohol you intake.

What are the holidays without a little stress:

It goes without saying that during the holidays there is always some family drama or meltdown. My biggest tip to you: WE CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE! Trying to do it all during the holidays, attending every party you’re invited too, mailing out a bazillion Christmas cards (including those who don’t send one to you,) organizing trips, packing, and baking can lead to undue stress. When our bodies are stressed out we tend to over-eat (it’s called stress eating) and yes it does exist. Take some time for you. That means saying “no” to things that aren’t at the top of your priority list. The holidays do bring out the best in us, but that also means that we try to cram a lot in that we don’t normally do the rest of the year. Instead of volunteering for every holiday event or planning committee; choose the ones that mean the most to you and say “no” to the rest. Allow yourself at LEAST eight hours of sleep every night; this leaves you refreshed and energized as you start your day.

Remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas are meant to be joyous occasions; filled with laughter, love and family. You don’t need to sacrifice your digestive system in order to have the other three. Balance the holiday season and feel joyous all year long!

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