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December 2, 2013

Food is the highlight of the holidays for most people. Who doesn’t love a traditional holiday dinner?

Unfortunately, sometimes we like the way a food tastes, but not the way it makes us feel. No one looks forward to bloating, fatigue, heaviness and gas, which are just some of the possible consequences of bad food combinations. Others include stomach ache, nausea, problems with elimination, bad breath, dry skin, rashes, chronic inflammation, poor sleep, low energy, chronic digestion issues, and weight gain.

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This doesn't mean that you can’t enjoy holiday foods! To avoid health consequences and maintain high energy throughout the holidays, be strategic about combining (or not combining) certain foods in one meal. You can still enjoy them over the course of the holiday season ... just not together!

Most people feel a surge of energy and naturally lose weight once they start following several simple food combining rules. It makes sense, because as the digestive system heals itself and becomes more efficient, nutrient absorption becomes better and less toxins are created.

Pie a la mode.

Heavy dairy ice-cream is a no-no for dessert according to Ayurveda. Cream, eggs, and sugar would be hard to digest in any state but having this combo ice-cold hinders circulation to the digestive system and makes the who process even more troublesome. If you're having a pie, have it warm with cinnamon ginger tea.

Honey glazed ham with mashed potatoes.

Never heat your honey! It loses it precious healing properties and turns into toxic sugar! Ham and potatoes is an example of protein-starch combo which inhibits digestion of starch. Protein and starches need different enzymes and different levels of acidity to be digested. When eaten together, your body is forced to make a choice to digest protein but not starches. How about ham with green beans or mashed potatoes with a salad instead?

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Cranberry sauce with turkey.

Fruit and meat is not a great idea if you like to keep your belly happy. Ayurvedic practitioners have known for a long time that fruit doesn’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion. Thus, they will not stay for a long time in the stomach. Foods rich in fat, protein and starch, however, will stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they require more digestion. So if you eat fruit with hard-to-digest proteins, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment.

Candied walnut gorgonzola salad.

This festive salad might sound good to your brain but definitely not to your gut! Cheese and nuts are among some of the most difficult foods to digest. Mixing them together will required even more energy and time. Unless you have a huge energy surplus and can’t decide where to spend it, choose a lighter salad. I love fresh greens with roasted beets and some goat cheese from a friendly farmer.

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Fruit, cheese and cold cuts appetizers.

While this common appetizer looks innocent and healthy, it's a gas and bloat-inducing beast. Fruits, meats and dairy do not make good friends, especially if you're having any kind of melon. (Melons should be eaten alone.) In general, it's best to eat fruits separately from proteins or starches, especially if you're looking for a quick energy boost from fruit.

Mixed seafood and meat plates.

Surf 'n turf, steak and lobster, fillet and shrimp are not the way to show how well-off you are! They're a way to show that you don’t care about your body and your health! Each meal should have only one concentrated protein. Having more than one will keep your stomach busy for at least eight hours making you tired and cranky.

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Cheesecake with fruit.

Don't mix any sour fruits with dairy as this combo can diminish digestive fire, change the intestinal flora, produce toxins, and cause sinus congestion, cold, cough and allergies. Ayurveda suggests avoiding congestive and digestive fire dampening foods like cold cheesecake mixed with fruits. A better alternative is apple crumble with warming cinnamon, cardamon, and nutmeg.

Of course, everyone has a different body and will experience various levels of sensitivity to bad food combinations. Many of us are so used to digestive discomfort that we don't know what it feels like not to experience it. Everything becomes clear in comparison. If you follow simple food combination rules for two weeks and let your digestive system rest, your digestion will be a lot more efficient and stronger before the holidays. Cravings will subside, there will be more energy, and a flatter belly.

If you want a step-by-step guide to keeping your belly happy throughout the holidays, Grab your Happy Belly Holiday Guide! You'll learn: Tips to prevent digestive distress during large family dinners and parties, what to eat during the stressful holiday rush, herbs and spices to have on hand to improve nutrient assimilation and prevent post-meal bloating, simple habits that will keep your nervous system calm and grounded.

Want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.
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Nadya Andreeva
Nadya Andreeva

Nadya Andreeva is a certified wellness coach specializing in digestive health, author & modern Ayurveda girl. Professionally trained in mindful eating, yoga, and positive psychology, Nadya helps women create a pleasure and freedom based relationship with food that honors their body's unique chemistry and eliminates bloating and irregularity.

Nadya's book, Happy Belly: A woman's guide to feeling vibrant, light, and balanced is a go-to resource for women to prevent and eliminate bloating and constipation. If you want to reduce bloating, eliminate constipation, balance weight, and have higher energy, download your copy of Happy Belly Meal Plan with recipes, food shopping list, Happy Belly Approved products and brands, and other super useful tools here.

Nadya has been featured in various media including Huffington Post Live, Yoga Journal Russia, Glamour Magazine, Veria Living, and Ted Talks.