Holidays are an excellent time to gather and share food and memories with family and friends but peer pressure and temptation can lead you to indulge in food and drink you might not otherwise consume in your day to day life.
This can impact your digestive system and can cause you to experience some of the uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms of overindulgence including:
- Excess gas and bloating: Consuming sugar-laden or irritating foods which may be difficult to digest can result in inflammation and pain. Bloating may be experienced as a large and distended belly which can cause plenty of discomfort, pain and even feelings of embarrassment.
- Acid reflux: Heavy or rich foods may be hard on the body and may cause the symptom of heartburn or acid reflux. Foods that are excessively fatty, salty or spicy in nature may have this effect. In an effort to try to keep the acid in the stomach, physiology may fail as one may have a weak sphincter (the one that separates the esophagus from the stomach) and the acid may travel up instead of down.
- Unpredictable bowel movements: Indulging in foods outside of one's normal diet may result in unbalanced or even alternating bowel movements. One may experience excessive diarrhea as a result of consuming out of the ordinary or indulgent foods. Or one may end up toilet bound with constipation and difficult bowel movements and / or constipation.
What is the best way to prevent over-indulging over the holidays?
- Set healthy limits for yourself: Setting healthy boundaries and knowing how much of a specific food or ingredient you will allow yourself to consume even before going in will help. Just keep that commitment to yourself clear.
- Eat before you go: Eat a salad, some soup or a small meal before you go to your event. This will keep you satiated and not ravenous so that you are less likely to make the wrong choices.
- Engage in physical activity: Be sure to incorporate some exercise or movement into the days leading up to the holidays as well as the days you spend both during and after. This will help you burn excess calories, will accelerate your digestive process. Gentle walking helps to activate digestion and stimulate peristaltic movement.
- Hydrate well: Keeping yourself well hydrated will help to keep your body feeling full for a longer period of time. Unhealthy snack cravings often result from dehydration. Herbal or fruit / vegetable water infusions are wonderful when having cravings for refreshing water.
- Don't give into peer pressure: Peer pressure will likely be present. Family and friends may pressure you to eat large amounts of food without necessarily knowing or understanding the state of your individual health or digestive system. Remember that you are the one who must deal with the after effects of your choices hence you must be the one who takes great care of yourself.
- Replace some less than healthy ingredients with healthier options: Here are some great swaps for ingredients that may be problematic for your digestion:
Swap out mayonnaise for Greek yogurt instead.
Mashed or baked potatoes using olive oil instead of butter
- Swap out potato chips and processed food and replace with kale or Brussel sprout chips which are very easy to make at home and taste delicious
- Control your portions: Portion control is one of the best ways to still enjoy yet avoid going overboard. Especially when it comes to consuming a special and tasty meal that you don't normally get to enjoy. Your plate should generally be composed of the following (of course each person's diet will vary depending on eating style or preference):
50% vegetables (broccoli, kale, carrots, cauliflower, spinach)
30% protein (red meat, chicken, turkey, ham, fish)
- 20% carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, pasta)
Here are some great tips to help you relieve the symptoms
If too many rich and heavy foods are consumed.
If you've already enjoyed a rich and heavy dinner during the holidays, make sure to compensate over the following days by eating fresh, natural, light and whole foods including plenty of vegetables. It's best to avoid consuming processed and packaged foods during this time.
If too much alcohol is consumed.
You may not be able to refuse a glass of wine or a beer during the holiday season, but drinking in moderation can be an option. One glass of wine or a single beer is often enough to enjoy and share with your family without going overboard and consuming in excess.
Naturally, there is a place and time to indulge, and there is a fine line between embracing the holiday season and slipping off the bandwagon. If you have committed any excess, don't worry: we've got some effective strategies that will help you relieve those digestive symptoms.
Natural remedies to relieve symptoms
Thankfully there are natural remedies to help you relieve the uncomfortable and all consuming digestive symptoms that accompany after-indulgence. One of the best ways to address heavy, slow and compromised digestion is to incorporate herbal bitters into your daily routine as they are extremely helpful in times of heavy indulgence. Bitter plants are excellent for stimulating digestion in times of sluggishness.
When a blend of herbal bitters is concocted, the concentration of therapeutic elements and aromatic compounds is increased.
The sheer bitterness of herbal bitter extracts stimulates the stomach to produce more acid and digestive enzymes. This makes it easier to digest and break down foods, especially protein. People have long relied on powerful bitter flavours to eliminate sweet cravings and balance blood sugar levels and so even declining dessert can become a bit easier when taking a bitter formula.
A.Vogel's Digestive Aid Complex is made up of 4 bitter plants which each have medicinal, therapeutic value. These plants, each in their own way, help to facilitate digestion, especially after over-indulgence. Let's take a look at each of them:
- Artichoke is known to improve digestive health by helping to relieve indigestion and constipation. Consuming artichoke also helps to balance intestinal flora thus reducing the risk of intestinal dysbiosis, indigestion, and diarrhea. Artichoke contains important compounds such as cinnarine that help to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It also helps to reduce flatulence thanks to its antispasmodic benefits.
- Milk thistle is a medicinal herb with important antioxidant, antiviral and protective properties for the liver due to its active compound Silymarin. Milk thistle extract may contain up to 60% of the active compound. Due to its antioxidant properties, this plant is commonly used to lower cholesterol and protect the liver from the accumulation of excess fat from the buildup of triglycerides. Milk Thistle has positive applications when it comes to:
Fatty liver treatment: In cases of triglyceride accumulation which can cause fatty liver and digestive problems.
Liver damage due to the intake of excess alcohol: The extract of Milk thistle can be used to address liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption such as moderate cirrhosis. It can also normalize blood bilirubin levels.
- Food poisoning: Milk thistle has detoxifying effects that can help to cleanse the blood and organism of toxic chemical compounds when one has overindulged and has consumed too many processed foods.
- Dandelion leaves have an affinity for the digestive system. The healing properties and chemical compounds contained in this plant help to improve the secretion of gastric juices. Its main purpose is to stimulate the organs of the digestive system in order to increase the production of gastric juices and to improve digestion and avoid intestinal irritation. Consuming dandelion leaves aids the stomach contents to empty and has the benefit of intestinal cleansing for this reason. Dandelion greens provide a great fiber rich addition to your salad greens. They help to increase beneficial bacteria in the GI tract thus reducing constipation.
- The leaves of the boldo shrub have a long history of use in traditional medicine. Boldo leaves have an anti-inflammatory effect as well as a cleansing effect in the GI tract. They are known to help tonify the liver as they help to stimulate bile production. In doing so, they may help to address a variety of gallbladder and liver issues such as gallstones and hepatitis. An extract of boldo is helpful in stimulating and enhancing digestion, relieving gas and bloating, and promoting all around bowel health.
- Black tea: is known for its benefits to the digestive system and for its antioxidant properties. The polyphenols in black tea help the digestive process in reducing inflammation and intestinal irritation.
- Chamomile: An infusion of chamomile will relax the stomach muscles and will help to reduce intestinal inflammation thus improving the digestive process.
- Fresh ginger: Ginger contains compounds that improve the production of digestive enzymes, also stimulates bowel movements to improve digestion and also reduces inflammation.
It's certain that having Digestive aid complex on hand during the holidays will make for easier and more enjoyable digestion and in turn festive celebrations! Have it in your purse for easy access and best results!