10 Top Tips to Help Your Digestive System Survive the Festivities
November 1, 2018
It’s that time of year where it seems there is one more office Christmas lunch, another family get together, that last mince pie that needs eating and of course, finding your favourite chocolate in the tin. If this all represents a sudden change from your normal eating habits, you may find your digestive system is not too happy with this extra workload. Indigestion, feeling bloated, maybe even feeling dizzy or tired from a sudden increase in sugary foods, plus you may also be concerned over weight gain.
With a little bit of forethought and planning, you can easily enjoy the extra offerings without overloading your body. With the benefit that you will also find it easier to return to a normal routine in the new year.
Here are 10 tips to help you look after yourself and not become a food bore, but most importantly, still enjoy yourself!
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- You have heard it all before but start the day with a good breakfast. This will set you up for the day and give you energy to get going. If you are going to over indulge or pick at the wrong foods all day, at least you have started with some decent fuel for your body. Try porridge or overnight oats, add dried fruit for minerals and energy, some nuts for B vitamins and healthy oils, sprinkle in some spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for flavour and aiding digestion. It is also a good time to take a multi vitamin and mineral tablet.
- Keep hydrated. Central heating, alcohol, endless cups of coffee to keep you going, can all contribute to dehydration. Your body is approximately two thirds water, being dehydrated can lead to tiredness and headaches, dry skin, and poor digestion. Try to drink at least 6 glasses of water a day, supplemented with herbal teas. Herbal teas are often caffeine free, calorie free and can have added benefits such as peppermint after a meal to aid digestion, lemon balm at night to help you relax. Use one based on rosehip, ginger, lemon or liquorice, for a quick pick me up.
- Take a digestive enzyme supplement with your meals. Digestive enzymes help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates aiding the digestive process and helping you get the most from your food. Good digestion means less discomfort after eating heavy or rich meals and better absorption of nutrients.
- If you are heading out for an evening meal and need an energy boost to see you through, don’t reach for a sugary snack mid-afternoon, have a smoothie with plant milk, fruits with added fibre such as chai seeds. Add some wheat grass or spirulina for extra nutrients. This will stop you getting hungry and not overload your digestive system.
- Look after your liver! Your liver is working extra hard at this time of year, processing food and alcohol, and probably more than you might usually consume. Use turmeric in cooking and lattes to help provide antioxidant nutrients and consider taking a supplement of milk thistle to support the detoxification process.
- Keep your gut happy by ensuring that your gut flora, or good bacteria, is working well. Eating fermented foods such as kefir, miso and kimchi are a useful addition to your diet. But if you find it hard to include these types of food, take a good friendly bacteria supplement that contains a range of flora. These help to keep the gut clean and also help you create and absorb certain B vitamins, important for a healthy nervous system.
- Give yourself a day off. Maybe you can’t take time out completely but give your digestive system a rest by having one a day a week where you eat a more simple diet and avoid alcohol and sugary drinks. Maybe make a simple soup, use smoothies, drink herbal teas and make yourself a large fresh salad with plenty of colourful vegetables, fruits and healthy oils.
- Alternate your drinks, if you find you are suddenly being confronted with more coffee than normal or an endless stream of alcohol, you can easily halve your intake by drinking a glass of still or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or infused with cucumber, in between each alcoholic drink. To cut down on the coffee, simple go for a smaller size cup and think about having a turmeric latte or a chicory-based drink as an alternative.
- Relax and enjoy it! Make the most of the time with family and friends, don’t get too hung up on what you should or shouldn’t be eating. Stress affects digestion, so enjoy the moment and your digestive system will thank you for it.
- Before it all starts getting too hectic, plan a simple but effective nutritional programme. A multi nutrient to top up on all essential vitamins and minerals, digestive enzymes to aid digestion. A good bacteria formula to keep a healthy gut flora, extra B vitamins and magnesium if you find you could do with some support for your nervous system. Keep it simple, relax and know that this is a short break, you will be back on top of your healthy eating in no time.