beat the holiday bloat

Written by Vera Coetsee, Health and Nutrition Coach

8 Dec 2022

The festive season has officially begun, which means many social gatherings, events and parties to attend. While this is certainly a joyful time to look forward to, many people might also find it a stressful time, trying to manage social and family time, while also keeping their healthy routines. It’s easy to fall into the holiday slump, which can lead to feeling fatigued, dehydrated, gassy and bloated. The great news is that with a little knowledge, motivation and planning, you can beat the holiday bloat this year, bringing you a positive start to the new year. Follow these simple healthy tips to feel your best this holiday season and beat the holiday bloat.

Choose Healthier Food Options

The first step to banishing the bloat is to take a look at both what and how much you’re eating. Quality and quantity is important. The holidays are definitely meant to be enjoyed, but that doesn’t mean you should eat everything presented to you. Avoiding empty calories are key here. Instead, try focusing on eating good quality protein, healthy fats, fibre and vegetables. Not only will these foods provide you with the nutrients to stay healthy over the holidays, but also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and thus avoid overindulging. So when you have an option for finger food at the office party, or you can pick your own meals at the restaurant, make sure to snack on those vegetables, and select fruits instead of cake for dessert. Your stomach will thank you later. Veggies will also provide you with fibre, which is essential for bowel movement. Magnesium citrate can also be taken in supplement form to help with constipation. Healthy food swaps you can make this holiday includes; replace high calorie/sweetened dips with hummus or greek yoghourt, replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, replace sugary soda drinks with kombucha or ice teas, replace cheese and crackers dessert with fruits, and replace french fries with sweet potato baked fries. 

Avoid Going to Parties on an Empty Stomach

Being mindful about food choices begins by avoiding the common mistake of missing regular meals and snacks with the intention to fill up on the holiday meals. This method will result in low blood sugar levels which leads to eating way too much in one sitting – a major cause of digestive upset and bloat. The key to avoid overindulging at those Christmas parties, is to ensure you’re responding to your natural hunger cues by eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. So make sure to eat healthy foods for each meal and fill up your stomach with nutrient dense snacks, since this will keep you from going straight to the food table at your events. Before heading out to your Christmas party after work, make a healthy snack at home. Healthy snack ideas include; nuts and seeds, greek yoghurt with berries, edamame, veggies and hummus, apple with nut butter, and hard-boiled organic eggs.

Control your Portions

Overindulging on those delicious Christmas meals are very common during the festive season. You have worked hard all year and you deserve those extra treats, right? Although this sounds like a great idea, your stomach might not agree. An overfull stomach leads to feeling bloated, therefore, it’s important to eat only what your body/stomach needs and not what your will power wants. Slowing down and taking a deep breath before diving in will also help your body send blood to the digestive organs and give your brain a chance to realise that it’s full. Your brain doesn’t signal that you’re full until about 20 minutes after you’ve started eating, so take your time when eating by physically putting down your fork between bites and taking smaller bites. Tips for portion control include; load up on colourful vegetables, eat slowly, chew your food properly, eat out of a smaller bowl/plate and eat before you get too hungry (don’t skip meals).

Stay Hydrated

When it comes to beating the belly bloat and how to beat the holiday bloat, water is your best friend. Drinking alcohol, which happens a lot over the festive season, can cause dehydration. To get things moving in your digestive system, sip on water throughout the day and night. Water helps to lubricate your colon, which helps to limit constipation aka the bloat. When you do drink your favourite cocktails at parties, try alternating with water between drinks. This will also help you avoid that dreaded hangover the next day. While drinking alcohol is not a replacement for a glass of water, you can stay on top of your hydration by adding water to your drinks, ordering spritzers with sparkling water instead of soda, or asking for ice cubes in your wine. A great tip to ensure you consume your daily 2 litres of water a day, is to invest in a high quality glass water bottle. Having the water bottle next to your desks, will be a daily reminder to keep sipping. 

beat the holiday bloat

Keep Moving

During the holidays, it’s tempting to put your workouts at the back of your mind with the promise to start again after the New Year. Going to the pub is definitely taking priority over the gym, but exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating in the gym. Keeping your body moving is very important for bowel movements, which is definitely needed after that Christmas meal. Staying active may seem like an impossible task with a calendar full of holiday parties and family obligations. But there are some, low-maintenance ways to stay active throughout the holiday craze. Tips to keep moving during the holiday season includes; bond with your family over walks after meals, print out simple workouts and bring them along if you are travelling, try fun seasonal activities like ice skating or hiking, sign up for a holiday fun run, use a watch to track your steps and get the family involved in a fun group workout session.

beat the holiday bloat

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