The holiday season is upon us and whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, birthdays, weddings, office parties, or New Years Eve celebrations there’s bound to be some temptations. The best thing we can do during these times is to relax and let go of fears and anxieties around food and deviations from our “routine”. Be kind to yourself, you’re only human, and life is meant to be lived to the fullest! Enjoy these special times with friends and family, knowing that indulgence is part of the health equation. Make the best decisions you can with what’s on offer, and remember the following tips for the next day to get back on track…
- Alkalize with lemon / ACV water
This is a habitual ritual I swear by. It rehydrates, alkalizes, fires up digestion and sets a nice tone for the day. Wake up to ½ lemon and/or 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with warm (not hot) water 30 minutes before your first meal of the day. Make it your own habit!
- Lean breakfast – don’t skip that first meal!
I know, I know… the last thing you probably feel like after a big day of Christmas eating is more food, but having a healthy breakfast is essential to getting back on track post celebrations. You want to keep your blood sugar in check so that you don’t wander over to the fridge for some less healthy leftover options around midday. Include lots of fiber, to get things moving inside and flush any Chrissy sins out! My choice: Lean Protein Smoothie – 1 serving rice/pea protein, 1 handful spinach, ½ cucumber, 1 cup frozen berries, mint or basil leaves (optional), 1 cup filtered water, cinnamon, ice. Sprinkle with coconut or 3-5 crushed nuts.
- Carminatives – Fennel, Cinnamon and Ginger
Carminatives are traditionally remedies that ease flatulence and abdominal cramping. All three have anti-microbial and antioxidant properties while ginger and cinnamon are also anti-inflammatory. They assist digestion and reduce bloating and flatulence. Research indicates that ginger can also relieve the severity and duration of nausea. Try adding a few slices of ginger to water with a pinch of cinnamon before food, or adding them fresh into your meals e.g. 1 tsp fresh grated ginger and/or ½ tsp cinnamon. Chewing on fennel seeds will reduce bloating and is also known to freshen breath.
- Leafy greens!
Nutrient rich and low in calories, fill up on greens! They will help you detoxify, are generally quite cooling and soothing, cancer-protective, extremely versatile and full of fibre to move things along. Blend, sauté, steam, chop or eat raw. They are essential to any good eating plan. Aim for at least 2-3 cups daily!
- Stay hydrated
It’s summer in Australia, so staying hydrated is important. However good old H20 also flushes out toxins and avoids fluid retention and bloating… If you aren’t getting enough water your body may hold on to any fluid you have left in a panic = bloat. Stick to flat filtered water, as even though soda’s have no sugar in them the air in bubbles can lead to bloating for some people. For added sweetness or flavour try adding mint or citrus fruits, or drink coconut water or herbal tea. This will also keep you fuller for longer
- Ditch processed foods!
Consume less salt, gluten, dairy, artificial sweeteners and packaged items… These are the main culprits causing bloating and that dreaded sluggish feeling. Try including more potassium rich foods such as avocado, leafy greens, tempeh and bananas in your diet. Potassium is known to counteract salt intake and maintain normal fluid balance thereby reducing fluid retention. Ditch table salt and opt for Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt instead for a better mineral profile.
- Prebiotics and Probiotics
If your feeling like your digestive system needs a little extra love, try consuming prebiotic and/or probiotic rich foods. Prebioitics are non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect us by stimulating the growth and/or activity of healthy bacteria in the colon and can alter your gut flora favorably to assist with digestion, bloating, flatulence, immunity, nutrient absorption and bowel movements. Good sources include asparagus, onion, leeks, garlic and artichokes. Probiotics also exert health benefits on your gut flora and include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi, kefir, yoghurt, tempeh, tamari and kombucha.
- Get outside…
There is nothing that fresh air can’t fix! It is my no.1 mood enhancer. Couple that with exercise, even just a gentle walk or stretch, and you will definitely be feeling less stressed, fresher and lighter! Being mindful of stress is crucial during this time, as a stressed body will not digest as well as a relaxed one. Relax!