The holidays can be one of the most joyous times of the year. But they can also wreak major havoc on your wellness. Everything from your stress levels to digestion, and immunity to sleep, can all take a hit when you’re trying to balance shopping, entertaining, cooking, and daily life. So what’s the number one way to feel your best all holiday season long? By tending to your gut health.
Leaving your gut health to fend for itself during the holidays can leave you feel gassy, bloated, constipated, and otherwise uncomfortable. And who can enjoy the holidays when you feel awful?
So to be sure you feel — and look — your best during the holidays, turn to these 5 tricks for keeping your gut health in check.
When you walk into a holiday party, does the host normally greet you with a glass of water? Of course not. Instead, you’re likely offered a cocktail, mocktail, hot cocoa, or coffee. And while all these beverages are fun and festive, they can be full of sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol… none of which are your gut’s best friend.
While you don’t have to forego your favorite holiday sips completely, you should consider upping your water game to keep your system flushed and your digestive tract lubricated and moving smoothly. You can even create a party-worthy beverage by drinking sparkling water — which is just as hydrating as plain, still water — from a fancy glass.
Firm Up Your Fiber Intake
Fiber is the preferred food for your “good” gut bacteria all the time, no matter the season. So make sure they get their own holiday feast by supplying them with fiber-rich foods. If the good guys don’t get enough fiber to eat, they can either die off, or begin feeding on the protective mucus lining of the gut. This, in turn, causes an imbalance in your gut microbiome, leading to a host of digestive woes.
Fermented foods are a good-gut-bacteria favorite, so load up on sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and pickles. You can also turn to other fiber-filled choices like Jerusalem artichokes, raspberries, beans, leeks, pears, onions, and even garlic. Even better, you can incorporate many of these foods into holiday-friendly dishes.
Go Small, Go Slow
While it’s tempting to load your plate with all your favorite dishes at once (you don’t want to miss out, we get it!), large portions can stress your stomach. Since your stomach is actually a muscle, asking it to overextend itself — which is amplified even more when you eat foods that are not normally in your daily diet — is a recipe for bloating and discomfort.
Instead, eat smaller portions, chew your food thoroughly, and eat slowly. Eating quickly may cause you to inhale extra air, which adds fuel to the bloating fire. But taking the time to eat your food intentionally not only helps your stomach process better, you can also be more present and enjoy the delicious flavors and textures. And you may fill up faster.
Keep Your Regular Routine
Traveling and busy days are the norm for many during the holidays, and veering from your routine can throw your body (and mind!) out of whack.
Be sure to keep up your daily supplement routine (and, if you’re not already taking it, consider adding GutConnect 365 to your regimen for extra digestive health help) and keep your sleep habits as steady as possible. You may even consider getting extra rest, so your body has a break from being constantly “on.”
And, since we know how important of a role the gut-brain axis plays in our health, take care to limit your stress. Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy… when you feel stressed, it’s a sign to pull back and focus — guilt-free — on your own needs.
Take A Walk
A post-meal stroll around the neighborhood could be the perfect way to stave off digestional discomfort. Since walking helps your abdominal muscles contract, your stomach may get a boost and move food through your digestive tract more quickly. So while you may be tempted to hit the couch or your favorite recliner after your meal, moving your body might be the better choice. (You can always go to bed early!)
While the holidays are full of food, friends, family, festivities, and fun, they don’t need to be full of bloating and belly discomfort. Making your gut health a priority all season — and all year — long will ensure you enjoy every magical moment.
To your health and happiness…
Your NatureM.D. Wellness Team