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Supporting your digestive health over Christmas
Posted 4 years ago by Clare
Well Christmas is here again! How did it get here so quick?
We love Christmas for all the reasons it makes us feel worn out and exhausted afterwards. Its sociable, a time for sharing and giving, and the food and drink can be yummy. However, it can be emotionally draining for some and physically exhausting for most. We tend to enter the New Year feeling bloated, worn out and unhealthy. But it doesn’t have to be like that!!
Puddings don't have to be laden with sugar to be enjoyable
Don’t worry I’m not going to suggest you don’t drink at all (unless you are driving of course) or have to sit and watch everyone eat your share of the trifle! However, here are a few suggestions for getting through the season without feeling as though you are going to be bloated for the rest of your life after.
The trick is to just have a little voice of self-care and preservation in the back of your mind. And to remember that fundamentally the aim is to remain hydrated, avoid getting constipated, care for your liver and enjoy a little relaxation and fresh air. So here goes:
- Start your day by drinking a pint of warm water with lemon squeezed into it. Have this before you have anything else. The warmth wakes your digestive system up gently, the water hydrates you, and the lemon helps detox and also stimulates your digestive system.
- Have a filling, healthy breakfast. What I mean by this is have eggs on rye bread, or porridge with ground nuts and a little coconut oil mixed in, or if you really are on the run have a homemade smoothie. I would suggest one made with some banana, apple, coconut oil, peanut butter or protein powder and coconut milk. Add in ginger if you dare – it’s yummy and great for digestion. The reason it is good to have full breakfast is that it sustains you further into the day. You are less likely to reach for all the cookies and mince pies being handed out in the office.
- Consider the day and evening ahead and plan and eat accordingly. One of the reasons we get bloated this time of year is simply beacuse we eat too much!! If you are going to get a big meal then have a light lunch. If you are going out for drinks only and are in danger of getting under a table with all the crisps you can find at the party, then have a good lunch and a big snack before you go out. This way you avoid both over eating, feeling bloated or under eating and becoming quickly affected by the alcohol you drink and falling asleep under a table at your work Christmas do! Not a great look!
- Eat less and avoid certain foods. We all talk about how the turkey was so filling. But actually it’s all the snacks, biscuits and puddings on either side that tend to have the greater impact. Turkey and sprouts are actually good for you! Sugar is one product that is very helpful to avoid as it tends to bloat a lot of people. It can feed the wrong bacteria in our bowels and cause fermentation that ultimately bloats you. It’s also the food that will ultimately put weight on you. Carbohydrates, especially wheat, can also cause bloating as they can aggravate an already inflamed bowel wall and some people find them hard to digest or are intolerant to them. Also, these are broken down into sugar very quickly so are classed as a sugar really. The Christmas season tends to be overflowing with chocolates, cookies, and carby foods. Try just having a little taster and savour it rather than lots. Avoid sugary, fizzy drinks and mixers. Go as natural as possible with soda added to wine instead of lemonade for example. When choosing snacks go for peanuts, olives, those little salmon bites and dips and crudités and avoid the endless crisps, cheese straws or the mince pies. Stick to the protein and vegetables and avoid the sugar and carbohydrates. You will feel so much better.
- Drink plenty of water and keep eating your vegetables. I know, I know. It’s so boring. But trust me when you’re drinking more wine and coffee than usual your system will be using every bit of hydration to clear the toxins out. That leaves your bowel with very little. The result of this is that you may be more likely to get constipated. And there is nothing more uncomfortable than round three of Christmas day when you aren’t regular and feeling bloated. Not to mention the frustration of not being able to get into that dress (or -um sorry guys – trousers) you were planning on wearing. Drinking plenty of water and eating your vegetables will help keep you flat, comfortable and healthy. It will also help support your liver which will be doing overtime this month protecting the rest of your body from toxins.
- Sleep lots! Yes really! The body is stressed at Christmas. Whilst we think we are relaxing watching TV and chilling with another glass of wine. Our body is busy de-toxing the backload of toxins from the day before and trying to rejuvenate itself. Sleeping gives your body a rest from digesting. We aren’t eating or drinking and therefore our digestive systems are not being stimulated again and are being given a chance to rest and recover. By the way, it’s been shown in research that you need sleep in order to lose weight. Really? Yes. The reason being because when you sleep your insulin levels fall and you can only truly lose weight when your insulin levels are low.
- Exercise. This is vital. It gets the blood pumping, bringing an oxygen supply back to our digestive system. Exercise is also known to help get sluggish bowels moving again, helping reduce the chance of constipation and therefore bloating. Getting out in the fresh air for a run or a power walk is wonderful for you. But Yoga is also very good and is known to be excellent gentle exercise for good digestive health. All in all you will be far more ready for more socialising and a natural healthy glow is even nicer than blusher.
- Breathe! This may sound silly, however many of us forget to breathe! Especially when we are stressed, rushed or excited. Being in a stress-response state leads to tension in our digestive system (and the rest of you)! So if having your house full of relatives is winding you up, check your breathing and if you find you are tense, breathing into your chest not your stomach, then try something different. Relax your shoulders, let your tummy stick out and slow your breathing down. Breathe deep into your stomach and the very slowly breathe back out again. Do this ten times, three times a day.
- Remember your probiotic! Funny how we tend to forget our health regime when on holiday but our body needs it as much then as any other time. Taking your probiotic will help keep you regular and reduce the chances of bloating over the Christmas season. OptiBac Probiotics are ideal as they do not need refrigeration and therefore can be taken with you wherever you are going over the holidays.
- Support your liver. Take milk thistle, eat your proteins and don’t pop too many paracetamol. Your liver will be working over time during the Christmas season. Milk thistle helps support it to do its job of breaking down toxins and packaging them up to be excreted from the body. Protein is also a great liver support. Paracetamol and other medications are a big burden on the liver so try to get rid of your headache with water and fresh air where possible.
And finally – enjoy it! Remember it’s what you eat on a regular basis that affects your long term health. Enjoying life, sharing the preparation of food and eating it with friends and family is an important aspect of your overall health and wellbeing. Just remember that these little tips for self presevation and self care will help you feel and look good. Wake up feeling fit and ready for the next party. Happy health.
You may like to find out about our favourite top products to help alleviate bloating, or if you enjoyed this post you may like to read about some more healthy christmas ideas.
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