Following these tips will keep your gut healthy and happy while you’re on holidays.
The holidays are the most awaited times of the year, for several reasons. You get to spend quality time with your family and friends without worrying about school or work responsibilities. You also get to indulge in your favourite festive treats and cocktails. In fact, it may be safe to say that one of the best parts of the holiday season would be the food! But having too much of anything – including your aunt’s delicious lamb roast – is not good for you, and will result in unpleasant consequences that come after eating a colossal amount of grub.
Whether it’s Easter lunch or Christmas dinner, most holiday feasts consist of foods that can trigger abdominal symptoms. You don’t have to skip out on the eating, however, your gut will thank you for being mindful while feasting. Follow these tips so you and your gut can enjoy the holidays:
1. Practice Mindful Eating
Keeping a mindful approach to the food you’re eating during the holidays will save you from the regret of over-indulging (and the consequences of unexpected weight gain). If being mindful is being present and aware of the things around you and the things you are doing, practising mindful eating means savouring the taste of each mouthful and enjoying the very experience of eating. It may sound over-dramatic but this approach can help you to be more attentive to what your body is feeling. When you become aware of your body’s need for food, make the decision to only get the amount of food that you can consume, and to stop eating when you are full, rather than mindlessly piling a mountain of grub on your plate and binge eating.
2. Stock Up on Probiotics
Probiotics are bacteria naturally found in our body that helps keep our gut balanced and healthy. They aid in our digestion and keep bad bacteria at bay. If the holidays are just around the corner, it is best to stock up on some probiotic-rich foods like cultured milk and fermented foods. Attending a holiday dinner? Prep yourself at breakfast. This will line your stomach with some gut-friendly bacteria that can reinforce good digestion and minimise your tendency of bloating.
3. Hydrate with Water
Most people tend to neglect the importance of drinking water, even on ordinary days. But hydrating yourself with water is all the more important during the holidays, particularly because dehydrating food and drinks like savoury meals, salty treats, festive alcoholic, and caffeinated drinks abound during this time. These food and drinks cause your digestive system to malfunction temporarily. Drinking plenty of water can keep your digestive system well-lubricated, and enjoy the festivities without worrying about constipation or indigestion.
4. Don’t Forget the Fibre
Fibre is a food source for microorganisms in your stomach. Without fibre, these microbes will end up consuming the mucus barrier in your intestines. As they gobble up the mucus barrier, the bacterial composition in your digestive system changes, causing inflammation and making you feel ill. In every holiday gathering you attend, make sure you pile up your plate with fibre-rich foods like salad and some grains to keep that gut of yours happy and healthy.
5. Know your Food Reactions
It would be wise to keep track of the food that stimulates a reaction from your gut, so you can pinpoint the ones that you should avoid. Did that chocolate pudding from last Christmas trigger a major reaction and made you spend the holidays on the toilet? Steer clear of that this year. Perhaps it’s best to avoid the lobster because the last time you ate one, you swelled up. Knowing the foods that previously triggered unpleasant reactions is part of mindful eating. Know your body and the different foods that cause an allergic reaction so you can be prepared for any holiday feast.
6. Boost your Immune System
It is very important to keep your gastrointestinal system healthy because your gut plays a significant role in your immune system and influences your overall well being. Protect and take care of your gut by taking the right supplement to get you through the holidays, especially in the winter when the flu is common. Echinacea-based herbal tinctures may help you ward off the flu and other common illnesses, but make sure you consult with your healthcare professional first before taking any medications.
7. Pick Just One
With heaps of tempting treats and cocktails on offer during the holidays, one cannot help consuming many different holiday-eats and drinks together, resulting in digestive turmoil the next day. Do your gut a favour and stick to just one: choose either drinks or treats instead of taking everything at once. Making this conscious decision will benefit you in so many ways: it will cut your calorie and sugar intake in half, lessen your risk of experiencing an uncomfortable hangover, and make your stomach happy the next day.
8. Make Room for More Resistant Starch
We usually overlook the side dishes we serve during the holidays, but these side-serves like vegetables, potatoes, and grains consist of resistant starch, a probiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch is formed as the food cools, but you may reheat the food and still retain the benefits of the starch. So, be more adventurous in preparing your holiday menu! Whip up some potato recipes, serve some rice-based dishes, and fill up some appetiser bowls with nuts and legumes for a good serving of resistant starch and have a happy holiday gut.
9. Enjoy a Post-Meal Walk
The idea of an after-meal nap is enticing, but giving in to that food coma is not a healthy idea. In fact, it’s the worst you can do if you are vulnerable to acid reflux. Going for a post-meal walk will help your abdominal muscles contract, as well as facilitate your stomach acid and holiday foods to pass through your intestines faster and more smoothly. Taking a walk will not only decrease your chances of experiencing acid reflux, but also allow you to feel the holiday ambience around your neighbourhood.
10. Enjoy the Holidays
Stress can severely impact the state of your microbiome. Overthinking about the fact that you’ve probably overindulged during the holidays will just promote anxiety and expedite any negative gut reactions possible, including the release of hormones that promote weight gain. Stop stressing about the worst possible consequences of your holiday eating and just relax! Enjoy the holidays!