Holiday Hangover: A Healthy Response to Overindulgence
Guest Article by Cheryl Conklin, Wellness Central
Let’s face it – most of us overdo it during the holiday season. It’s incredibly hard to avoid all those cookies, fruitcakes, homemade candy and designer chocolates laying around just begging to be eaten. And there’s that tasty egg nog and enough alcohol on hand to float a fleet of battleships. Christmas is a feasting season and one is expected to eat hearty, to snack continually, and to feel stuffed, gassy and bloated for days on end. It’s a Battle of the Bulge for your digestive system, and a weeks-long source of remorse as you starve yourself and exercise obsessively in the New Year. But maybe it’s time to consider a different approach.
This Christmas, embrace the gluttony (briefly and in moderation), shed the guilt, and concentrate on transitioning back to a healthy lifestyle after the holidays. It’s better than tormenting yourself with unreasonable expectations – there’s nothing worse than feeling nauseous and guilty at the same time.
It’s the holiday season, and you’re supposed to enjoy yourself. Save the self-denial for Lent or your pre-vacation crash diet. Instead of staring at a delicious treat and calculating the calories and its impact on your hips, just savor it. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Studies have shown that fully chewing each bite is better for your digestive system and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. The sad truth is that people who feel guilty about eating things they love tend to struggle with weight and self-image issues. So have an extra cookie or piece of pumpkin pie, enjoy it and forget it.
Bloating is a common digestive response to overeating during the holidays. In fact, 74 percent of people report experiencing this unpleasant sensation. Fortunately, incorporating probiotics into your daily life can help relieve your discomfort and keep your digestive system in check during this season of indulgence. Consider also adding fermented foods to your diet. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir are great for boosting your metabolism, gut health, and digestion.
Get rid of the evidence
The more food left lying around, the more likely you are to continue eating, even when you don’t feel hungry. Avoid keeping leftovers around – offer them to the neighbors or take them to work, just get them out of sight. Eliminating food on hand makes it less likely that you’ll obsess about it and continue eating after you’re full. Many times, bingeing comes down to “see food, eat food,” so remove the evidence.
Pound the pavement
Walking seems like too simple a response to serial overeating. People sometimes think they need a high-tech personal gym to cope with the effects. The truth is, walking is one of the very best forms of exercise, it’s cost-free, and you can do it anywhere, almost any time. After you’ve packed it away at dinner or a holiday party, go for a brisk walk around the block. A strenuous workout after overeating isn’t good for you, and may even cause a sudden, involuntary and very unpleasant loss of nourishment. Simply taking a walk will make you feel better and it’ll activate your metabolism, aiding digestion and burning off those calories.
Don’t swear off food
So you put away half the buffet table at the office Christmas party, it’s the following morning and you don’t even want to think about eating. It may seem like the ideal solution, but it can actually worsen the situation. Instead, eat a small, balanced and healthy breakfast with smaller portions featuring protein and fiber. Make a healthy egg-white omelet and include yogurt and some berries. It’ll help bring your blood sugar back into balance and get your roiling gut under control.
Don’t play the self-blame game this holiday season. Instead, bless the food and pass the potatoes. Have an extra helping of cranberries, and for heaven’s sake, don’t skip dessert. Christmas only comes once a year.