The Dos and Don’ts of Healthy Digestion During the Holidays
The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of year, but do you ever feel like someone forgot to tell that to your digestive system? Seeing family, eating food that’s not your usual healthy fare and even sleeping in an unfamiliar bed – they can all have an impact on your GI system on occasion. If your belly feels like a Grinch or a spinning dreidel during the holidays, keep reading.
We’re sharing our favorite holiday tips for a healthy, happy digestive system, plus a packing list to help you feel like your best self all through the most wonderful time of year.
Dos and Don’t for Healthy Digestion During the Holidays
Follow these dos and don’ts for your digestive happiness!
Do focus on fiber. (Because vacation constipation is real!) It promotes regularity and healthy digestion. Women need about 25 grams of dietary fiber daily, and men need about 38 grams a day. Fiber helps keep things moving, so make sure you’re getting enough every day. Fiber is only found in plants, so if you’re eating fewer fruits and veggies during the holidays, you might fall short on your daily goal.
Dietary fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oat bran, nuts, beans, peas, psyllium and some fruits and vegetables. It supports digestion, draws water in and forms a gel during digestion. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains and vegetables. This fiber bulks up the stool, making it easier to pass.
Don’t give up your normal routine, including hydration, exercise and healthy eating. Whenever possible, celebrate the holiday for one day – or one meal – then get back to life as usual. Focus on the little things: Drink plenty of water if you choose to imbibe. Do a shorter version of your regular run or a bodyweight workout if you don’t have access to weights. Keep healthy snacks on hand instead of noshing on the cookies and candy that are all around. Have a portion of your aunt’s mac and cheese plus a side of green vegetables. Your body prefers that you do what you can instead of adopting an all-or-nothing mentality.
Do prioritize stress relief. Your brain and gut are connected, after all! The people we love most are sometimes the ones who push our buttons the most. Changes in routine, overstimulation and feeling money woes are not uncommon during the holidays. Control what you can to help manage everyday stress. Take some deep breaths. Go for a walk around the block when you feel overwhelmed. Put on noise-cancelling headphones. Your belly and your brain will thank you!
Don’t skip your workouts. Exercise benefits us physically and emotionally, and it can even help digestion. If exercise is part of your routine at home, make time for it during holiday trips, too. Pack resistance bands or a travel yoga mat, as well as fitness clothes and your favourite sneakers. Instead of skipping workouts, shorten them or reduce your frequency or intensity. If you tend to feel stiff and bloated after travel, make time for a workout.
Do volunteer to bring a dish that you know you can eat (especially if you have dietary restrictions). Not in charge of the cooking? Let the host know of any food preferences, intolerances and allergies ahead of time. If the host doesn’t have experience cooking to suit your needs, offer to pick up safe-to-eat dishes at a local supermarket or prepare some of your favourites together. At potlucks, bring along a sticky note with a list of the ingredients in your dish(es).
Don’t forget to drink water. Make room in your carry-on for your “emotional support water bottle,” and try to drink even more water than usual. Airplane cabin air is dry, and road trip and airport snacks tend to be salty and processed. (More on that below!) You might notice you’re thirstier than usual. Ideally, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to refill your water. Thirst can be a sign that you’re already falling behind on your water goals.
Do pack your own snacks, too. While it is easier to find healthy snacks on the go these days, food on airplanes and in airports and gas stations tends to be processed. A sweet or salty treat is fine now and again, but packing your own healthy snacks is the way to go. You won’t go hungry (or get hangry!) trying to find something tasty and nourishing, and your GI system will prefer healthier choices.
Don’t rush your meals or overdo it. Eating too fast or too much is a recipe for occasional digestive discomfort. Slowing down and chewing your food thoroughly not only gives your body time to release the enzymes that break down your food, but those habits also allow your brain and body to sync up. Hunger and satiety messages take time to travel from belly to brain!
Do speak up about dietary restrictions. Instead of worrying about causing trouble or making extra work for your host, think about your physical well-being. Does eating your father-in-law’s signature barbecue leave you feeling gassy or bloated at times? Does Grandma’s gluten-filled fruitcake disagree with you? Or maybe your family’s latkes feel heavy but you love the tradition? Speak up and take care of yourself (which is sometimes making sure you have the right digestive enzymes on hand).*
Don’t leave your go-to support at home, in case you experience occasional gas, bloating, constipation and other digestive discomfort. Read on for our packing list to help you – and your belly! – feel your best.
Do be a helpful host. If you’re hosting the family, friends or coworkers for a seasonal celebration, be prepared. Label all dishes, ask about any intolerances – and be prepared. Set up a decorative tray on the buffet table with all your favorite products for digestion, so guests can discreetly help themselves if they experience occasional digestive discomfort. Include options for regularity support, gas and bloating, and food intolerances.
Healthy Digestion Packing List for Holidays away from home
• Reusable water bottle
• Workout clothes
• Travel workout gear (resistance bands, yoga mat, foam roller)
• Healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated
• Supplemental nutrition (protein powder, pre-workout fuel, etc.)
• All your go-to digestive supplements:
Dreading the family dinner because of multiple food intolerances? Digest Spectrum covers all your bases since it’s formulated for all major food intolerances.
Facing heavier than usual holiday fare? Keep Lypo Gold for fatty foods handy.
We hope that you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy holiday season – with no digestive discomfort to spoil the occasion.*
Article from Enzymedica®