Top Tips to Keep Your Digestion Humming During the Holidays
Keeping your diet clean and your digestive system happy brings a lot of rewards: better stress tolerance, balanced moods, and a flatter belly. Additionally, as your digestive and immune systems are so intimately connected, a well functioning digestive system often brings markedly decreased incidence of colds and flu. If you already have eliminated gluten and dairy from your diet, you have gone a long way towards improving your digestive and immune health. Give yourself a pat on the back if you are one of these people!
However, all the temptations during this time of year can lead even the most health conscious people to either overeat processed, sugar-laden gluten-free treats…or dive for a platter of a gluten-laden goodie made from a generations old family recipe by their beloved Aunt Mabel. And then the prices is always paid for the indulgence via either short term of long health consequences. Sound familiar? If you would like to break the pattern of health sabotage this holiday season, read on for my top tips to staying committed to keeping your digestive system in top running order.
1. Have a Plan and Get Support to Follow It. This is the most important tip. I totally agree with this Winston Churchill quote “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Sometimes people are afraid to make a eating plan because they have failed so many times at dieting. This is not about deprivation, but experiencing the abundance that comes from having optimal health.
Having a eating plan or general structure to your food intake makes it much harder to fall into unconsciousness about what you are eating during the holidays. The body loves routine. When you continually give it nutrient dense food on a regular schedule in moderate portions, it will ask to be fed that way again when you veer from the normal feeding rhythm. When you eat this way your cravings for junk food will be less intense, and you will find yourself craving feeling healthy more than you crave the momentary pleasure of a bite of something. If you don’t yet have a eating plan that gives you the results you are seeking, find a health professional who can help you with this.
2. Get Support to Follow Your Plan. Once you have your healthy eating plan, you will need to figure out how to fit it into your holiday social plans. This is where support is really helpful. Most of us thrive with adequate structure and accountability. Support can look a myriad of ways:
- Supporting yourself by keeping a food journal during the holiday season. Every morning write down what you plan to eat in detail: what, how much, and when. At the end of the day go back and write down any deviations. You will find the days you did this you made the best food choices.
- Get support from a health professional/coach. It can help greatly to have a weekly check-in during the holidays to keep accountable.
- Tell your friends and family what you are up to. Tell them you are sincerely trying to improve your health and would like their support. If even only one or two people at a gathering know you are on a special diet, it will help you avoid temptation. This takes some courage and you might encounter some resistance or judgment from others. The reality is more and more people are health and diet conscious now than ever, and you will probably be helping others out at social gatherings who are also struggling to make healthy choices during the holidays. You might even gain a support buddy!
3. Whatever You Eat, Don’t Overeat. Chronic overeating can lead to and exacerbate leaky gut syndrome, which can lead to the development of multiple food intolerances and numerous other health problems. If you decide to indulge in a favorite ‘treat’ food, decide ahead of time how much you will eat (the smaller the portion the better), take only that portion size, and relish every bite. I also recommend keeping the rest of the meal very simple and full of foods you know fill you up and you digest well, so that you are less tempted to overeat on foods that tend to irritate you. A common sense tip but worth mentioning.
4. Whatever You Eat, Chew It REALLY Well. Chewing coats the food you eat with the digestive enzyme amylase, which is necessary for carbohydrate digestion. Chewing also sends the message to your gallbladder to release bile. Bile is necessary for fat digestion and absorption. If you chronically gulp down your food and don’t chew much, your bile production will become markedly decreased over time and your digestive organs will become stressed. To put it simply, improper chewing of your food makes every step of the digestion and nutrient absorption process more difficult and less complete. Therefore, no matter what time of the year it is or what you decide to eat, do the following: relax, breathe deeply, and chew, chew, chew until your food is the consistency of baby food before swallowing.
5. Reset Your Taste Buds and Do a Cleanse. As I mentioned in tip #1, having a nutrient dense food plan that works for you is key to keeping cravings at bay and keeping your digestive system in good working order. Doing a cleanse often involves eliminating processed and allergenic foods for a set period of time, taking supplements focused on cleansing specific organs, and filling your body up with nutrient dense food. Many people report (including me) that these types of cleanses work wonders for re-setting your taste buds, releasing deep cravings for junk food, and developing cravings for healthy foods. Many people wait until after the holidays to do these cleanses, but think of how great it would feel to be full of energy and vitality throughout the holidays instead of cranky, hypoglycemic, and burnt-out?
A 7 day guided liver/gallbladder cleanse powered by raw foods is offered every month at Inner Awakening Healing Center where I work as a Colon Hydrotherapist. I have done three of these cleanses now and they have done wonders for my digestion. They are offered as a tele-class so that people can participate from anywhere in the world. The next cleanse tele-class is November 29- December 5. There is also the option to do the liver/gallbladder cleanse as a retreat at Mt. Shasta this holiday season, which will include 2 days of juicing for those ready to take it up a notch! The Mt. Shasta Cleanse Retreat is November 10-14. For more details go to: Mount Shasta Cleanse Retreat
6. Find Easy to Digest Holiday Comfort Food. We are human, and sometimes it can make us feel a bit down to watch others enjoy tasty foods we used to really enjoy during the holidays. There are so many options available now to either purchase or learn how to make healthy alternatives to holiday foods that are either full of gluten and dairy or are otherwise digestive nightmares. For many people, unless they see a new type of food prep method being demonstrated, they aren’t likely to try it out. For you visual learners, food prep classes are a must. A chef I highly respect is offering an amazing class entitled “Healthy Holiday Survival” on November 20th. I highly recommend it! Here are the details on this event:
Healthy Holiday Survival:
A Fresh Approach to Holiday Celebration
Imagine that your holiday experiences could leave you refreshed and healthy, rather than heavy and exhausted. In this daylong crash course, you will create a game plan for a fun, delicious and sustainable holiday season. The Bay Area’s top raw chefs will teach you easy raw vegan foods to nourish you through the winter’s festivities. Plus, you’ll get loads of holiday decorating tips, shop for green gifts and enjoy an elegant raw dinner with like-minded enthusiasts.
This fresh approach to holiday celebration is unlike any other event you have been to. It will include:
- A chat with raw food celebs about surviving the holidays and feeling rawsome in the winter. Featured guests include raw food luminary Cherie Soria, Café Gratitude Head Pastry Chef Gregory Manitsas, Monday Night Live founder Shea Lynn Baird, author Diana Stobo, Chef Melissa Mango and others.
- Raw food classes with featured chefs Heather Haxo Phillips, best-selling Author and Chef Jennifer Cornbleet and Krazy Kracker Lady Abeba Wright
- Tips for Holiday plating and decorations
- An elegant holiday meal featuring City Slicker Farms
- An opportunity to start your holiday shopping off right.
Nov 20th. 10 am – 7 pm in downtown Oakland.
Tickets: $95 early bird special, $120 after November 10, $30 for dinner only.
On sale now at http://www.rawbayarea.com