We've all been there. Post holiday meal, sitting on the sofa feeling bloated, fat, gassy and miserable.
The holidays are a great time to connect with your loved ones over good food and drinks, but for most it’s more a case of stuffing yourself to the point of sickness and then feeling heavy and fatigued as a result. And that’s just after the first holiday party!
Add a few more weeks of parties and family gatherings, each one laden with piles of heavy food and you have a recipe for a protruding, sore belly, lethargy and probably a lot of negative self talk when you catch yourself naked in the mirror.
The great news is that you can have a fun and indulgent holiday season without the discomfort, weight gain and stinky gas if you pay attention to a few rules for easy digestion.
1. Focus on vegetable based meals.
Make vegetables the focus of every meal over the holiday season. This doesn’t mean you need to eat boring salads of soggy iceberg lettuce and tomato and a baked potato without toppings. Of course you won’t feel satisfied and indulged eating that.
Instead focus on having at least 60 to 80% of your plate piled high with amazing vegetable creations like beautiful fresh salads with your favourite ingredients, olives, avocado, cherry tomatoes, spiralized beet and carrot and a lick-your-plate-clean dressing. Serve your heaping salads with baked beetroots tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and fresh thyme. Enjoy baked sweet potato chips dipped into mounds of fresh guacamole and salsa and a hearty bowl of your favourite vegetable soup. Check out some of my mouth watering vegetables recipes here.
If you focus on having a delicious combination of fresh and cooked vegetables, the other foods you eat will be in much smaller quantities and the vegetables, especially the raw salads, will help you to digest the other foods you eat.
If you have been eating very little fibrous or fresh food and you start eating large amounts of fresh produce, you can expect to see some bloating in your belly temporarily as the vegetables awaken old waste and get things moving in your intestines. Don’t let this deter you, simply increase your veggie intake slowly and it will pass quickly leaving you with a flatter and happier belly.
2. Forgo the fruit salad dessert
Fruit salad is healthy, but it becomes a digestive nightmare when eaten as dessert after heavier foods like turkey, cooked vegetables, bread, grains or potatoes.
Fruit moves through the body very quickly, so when it is eaten after a meal that is slower to digest there will be a traffic jam in your intestines. This creates a lot of gas, fermentation, bloating and discomfort. It also means you won’t as effectively absorb the nutrients from the food you’ve eaten, nor will you eliminate it into the toilet completely. That’s a recipe for bloating and weight gain!
Instead have some high quality 70% plus dark chocolate (in this situation it is a better choice than fruit!) or enjoy a fresh almond milk chai.
3. Pair your foods for easy digestion.
Different types of foods take different times to digest and require different enzymes to break them down, meaning your assimilation of the nutrients from these foods will be impaired and your digestion will be compromised, causing bloating, gas and constipation. For example, animal foods take around four to five hours to leave the stomach while starches (grains, bread, etc) take around three to four hours to leave the stomach.
If you eat foods from these two groups together at the same time (think fish and potato, chicken and rice, turkey sandwiches) the time for that meal to leave the stomach has now been increased to seven to nine hours, and that’s provided you haven’t thrown in other food groups like fruit or nuts too! That’s a whole lot of extra time your body is spending on digestion when that energy could be spent on cleaning out your temple, removing toxicity and giving you energy.
Keep your animal foods and starches away from each other (eat them with fresh vegetables instead). You will be left with a healthier body (and mind – digestive health plays a huge role in your mental and emotional health too) and a calmer, flatter belly.
4. Avoid or limit the worst offenders.
If you are intent on eating heavily processed foods, large servings of red meats, refined sugar, cakes, cookies and refined salt, you will suffer with bloating. These foods are just not designed to go into our bodies!
Instead choose the highest quality foods and bring dishes to your holiday parties that emphasize these foods, of course along with plenty of fresh and cooked vegetables. Choose fish, organic eggs and organic raw dairy. Focus on grains like millet, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat. Enjoy healthy cookies made with clean ingredients, like these. Forget refined salt and instead pick up the pretty pink Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt. Ditch white sugar and go for stevia, yacon syrup, raw honey or pure maple syrup.
Make these switches and you will be pleasing your palette while your body becomes stronger, healthier and slimmer.
5. Hydrate and flush.
You need to drink enough pure, clean water and organic hydration from fresh fruits and vegetables to keep toxins flushing through you. Water is essential to life and it is also essential to reducing and preventing bloating.
Drink pure water every day as the first thing you consume. If you don’t like your water straight up, try this or add some lemon juice or lemon slices.
Herbal tea is also great but avoid coffee and tea as much as possible and if you do choose to include them drink extra water and fresh vegetable juice to help counter their dehydrating effects and acidity.
This will help to minimize bloating and weight gain.