We’re happy to welcome back our in-house holistic nutritionist and expert guest blogger, Laura De Sanctis of Go with Your Gut! In today’s post, she’ll be sharing her top ten tips on how to stay healthy and make the holidays merry without feeling bloated!
As a holistic nutritionist, I always get asked what are some tips and tricks to beating the holiday bloat and staying healthy during the festive season. The answer may surprise you.
We all know we should be eating more veggies (especially green ones) as well as seasonal fruits, but how come we don’t do so? Is it a compliance issue? Is it because we give in to temptation during the holidays? Is it because we tie in an emotional connection to the food we eat and know we only get to eat candy canes, cookies or gingerbread once a year? OR, is it because we let one cheat meal or snack derail us, and use that as an excuse to go down a rabbit hole of unhealthy eating patterns? The answer? Could be all of the above!
Unfortunately, there isn’t one magic weight-loss solution, or healthy tip to follow, especially during the holidays. What I find works well, and what I love about the Avazera 14-Day Detox Program starting again by popular demand in January 2018, is we guide and provide you with a step-by-step plan, as to how to swap out foods so you can not only drop the weight but detox your body in a healthy and safe way. A plan that you can even use before, during and after the holidays! In order to beat the holiday bloat, I don’t believe in a starvation diet and I am not an advocate of counting calories. Although I do think it’s important that everyone learn how to read a label and be cognizant of where they are getting their calories when it comes to packaged items.
Laura’s Top Ten Tips!
I’ve included my top ten tips that I personally follow on how to beat the holiday bloat, stay healthy and feel great!
1.) Nix the sugar. As much as sugar is tempting. It’s NOT worth the empty calories. Sugar lowers our immune system function, increases inflammation in the body and leads to constipation. If you are craving something sweet, try eating some applesauce or satiate your craving by making one of Avazera’s and my nutritionist-approved, healthy recipes up on the blog and included in the eBook.
2.) Be social. But, eat smart. Getting together with family and friends during the holiday season is great, but don’t let socializing sabotage your healthy eating. Learn how to control temptations by substituting or swapping i.e. swap a cocktail with a mocktail.
3.) Have a plan in place. The best way to control what you eat is to make it yourself. If you know you are traveling for the holidays, visiting friends or family, or are attending holiday parties where you know the food won’t be healthy, ask if you can bring a healthy dish to the event!
4.) Watch your intake of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are free-flowing at holiday events, but these drinks are packed with calories and sugar! Limit yourself to one glass of alcohol and make sure to drink lots of water, as alcohol is a diuretic.
5.) Get enough sleep! During the holidays, we seem to operate on less sleep. You should be aiming to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night. With each hour of sleep lost, the odds of obesity go up. Lack of sleep does not equal consuming copious amounts of coffee to compensate. With lack of sleep, it leads to a host of problems including weight gain and inflammation, increased blood sugar imbalance and decreased brain function.
Tip: If you’re dependent on coffee, try swapping it out for Green Tea or Matcha
6.) Drink water. Especially before a holiday party! I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. The funny thing is that when we are thirsty, we are already BEYOND the point of dehydration. Sip water consistently throughout the day, especially if you know you are going to be consuming alcohol for a holiday party. You should aim to drink two to three litres a day. Get up close and personal by taking a look at your urine too. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are. Your body always sends you signs as to what it needs. Pay attention and listen to your body.
7.) Keep Moving! To help beat the holiday bloat, I always encourage my family and friends to keep moving during the holidays. After all, our bodies were made to move! Grab your bestie or your family and try a new fitness or yoga class. Take a walk after your holiday meal and get the blood flowing. Go from a sedentary to active lifestyle easily by just walking it off. You can always do an in-home workout or go for a walk or run outside (weather permitting of course.)
8.) Avoid the top allergens- gluten, wheat, soy, and dairy. Many of my nutrition clients are sensitive or have intolerances to gluten, soy, and dairy. I too have these intolerances. To help beat the bloat I avoid these foods as well. I ask for gluten-free options and bake holiday cookies with gluten-free flours. I even try to make raw, no-bake vegan or vegetarian power balls, energy bites and protein balls. Removing these types of foods (including those with sugar) from your diet will reduce inflammation, bloating and gas. My suggestion is to have a balanced diet, filled with seasonal and organic fruits, veggies, poultry, lean meat, and fish.
9.) Remember to chew your food! With the holidays comes lots of excitement around food. It seems so simple, and yet it’s so easy to forget the basics of eating. Take your time and chew, chew, chew. I advise all my clients to do this. Be mindful and in the moment, especially when you are eating. Remember, your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so it’s up to you to remember to chew your food! Chewing your food allows you to digest better as it sends a signal to your digestive tract that food is coming. Another recommendation I have is to pace yourself. The food isn’t going anywhere. If it is, I am sure there will be more. Put your fork or spoon down in between bites. Enjoy the conversation that is around you and take the time to speak and engage with those around you.
10.) Take a good probiotic! I’m all for digestive health and believe there is a connection between the brain and the gut. The term gut flora and gut microbiota are synonyms and refer to all the bacteria in the intestinal tract. This applies to both the bacteria and micro-organisms that live in our digestive tract. Most of our gut bacteria resides in the colon or large intestine. The microbiome is the total amount of bacteria carried in our body. It’s important to supplement with a probiotic (at least a 15 billion CFU as this is safe for everyone) as probiotics, help balance gut flora, reduce inflammation and can even help change your brain function for the better. Gut bacteria or poor gut bacteria can actually harvest more calories from your food leading to weight gain.
Tip: Look for probiotic supplements labeled as “enteric coated” as these are acid/enzyme resistant and can help travel safely to your intestines. Ensure to follow the dosing guidelines for the probiotic.
“Be Mindful When Eating”
Last but not least, and one of my biggies is to be mindful when eating. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we tend to eat mindlessly, which leads to overeating. Don’t forget to be more mindful in your approach to food, what and how you eat, and your company. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings toward your food and health. Remember it takes continued effort and consistency to eat well and live well. Always go back to the basics. Eat healthily, have a balance of whole foods, hydrate throughout the day and eat a ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Follow the healthy eating principle of the 80/20 rule, eating healthy most (80%) of the time.
Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy holiday season!