With Christmas just around the corner, it’s tempting to drop healthy habits and overindulge in the festivities.
While a balanced diet should always have room for treats, if you have digestive problems or are working on improving your gut health then you know that too much rich food and alcohol, along with a lack of fresh air and movement, can soon make your digestion feel sluggish.
Here’s some achievable tips on how to keep your gut happy—while continuing to enjoy all that the festive season has to offer:
Bulk Up On Veg
Our gut bacteria love a broad spectrum of plant-based foods. Load up on roasted vegetables, a side salad or soup. It’s also a great time of year to eat cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts. These are not only high in antioxidants, but they also promote detoxification. This can be especially helpful during the festive season!
Chill Out & Chew
Mindful eating encourages our parasympathetic nervous system— our ‘rest and digest’ processes—to kick in. This signals to the rest of the body that it’s OK to start digesting our food. For optimal digestion, aim to eat in a relaxed environment, taking the time to connect with loved ones. Chewing your food thoroughly is important too. It’s a certain step in digestion, as saliva contains enzymes needed for breaking down and absorbing key nutrients.
Let There Be Rest
It’s normal to overindulge during the Christmas period. The good news is that alternating between ‘feasting days’, where you consume more food than normal, and ‘resting days’, where you would typically consume less food, has been found to promote optimal wellbeing. Turns out our gut bacteria also like the idea. Try to have a long stretch between your last meal in the evening and your breakfast the next day. A 12-hour break not only promotes beneficial bacteria within the microbiome, but it also optimises how your microbiome extracts nutrients from your diet. This supports digestion and hunger hormones.
A herbal tea can be a great help. Chamomile, ginger and peppermint tea are soothing after a rich meal and can ease an unsettled stomach. Apple cider vinegar is also great to sip pre-feast. Look for organic, fermented apple cider vinegar that contains the ‘mother’, as this provides most of the nutritional benefits needed for ramping up your digestion. And don’t forget to hydrate. Drinking 2L of water is crucial for optimal digestion.