“Go on, have another slice.”
“Didn’t you like the food? You only had two helpings!”
Lots of people have a hard time setting up effective boundaries with not only their family members, but themselves — especially around the holidays. Even though the holiday myth that we gain 5-10 pounds during the holidays was busted a while ago, weight gain isn’t the only way to measure how healthy your gut is.
This is because there are several factors interacting that lead to unhappy digestive conditions.
First of all, holiday fare tends to be heavier in starch, dairy, and sugar, all food groups which we’re advised to consume in moderation.
Second of all, there’s more food than we’re used to eating in one sitting and for a prolonged period of time. Meals are often more plentiful and varied than the sandwich you would’ve made for yourself at home. And overloading your digestive system with too many different types of food makes your gut work extra hard to digest those foods, leading to discomfort and reduced functionality.
And finally, your carefully curated routines are tested. You may not be going to the gym as faithfully as you had been during the year, or making sure to drink a glass of water when you wake up, or not eating past a certain point in the evening.
But there’s no reason to distress — everything in moderation, even moderation. Many people forego moderation during the holidays because they’re celebrating, and there’s nothing wrong with behaving differently while you’re celebrating.
It’s just important to balance that out by making sure your behavior is a little bit more stringent following an indulgence.
Here are a few tips for restoring your microbiome to its former equilibrium…
It sounds simple, but remaining physically inactive after a binge doesn’t help you.
This is because exercise helps increase motility and keeps your blood circulating and your digestive tract pumping. If you were very sedentary during the holidays, get back to your gym routine as often as you can.
If it’s not possible to immediately get back to your gym routine, get out and take a thirty minute walk!
Studies have shown that walking helps reduce the glucose levels in your blood as well as reducing the effects of bloating.
Try a Bone Broth Break
Not surprisingly, your gut has an easier time digesting liquids than solids. And since bone broth has more nutritional properties than stock or water, it’s not as close to fasting when you only consume bone broth for a day or two.
Now, if you have a history of disordered eating or specific conditions that come with dietary requirements, always consult your doctor before fasting in any sense.
But you may find that stepping back from the solid consumption of carbs and starches gives your gut a chance to catch up and repair itself, while feeding your gut bacteria the good stuff it needs.
Focus on Water and Tea
Drink warm water and lemon in the morning when you wake up. Hydration stimulates the digestive tract, and it also allows your liver and kidney to effectively filter out toxins — which for most people is absolutely necessary after a week of overeating and overdrinking.
Set yourself up with plenty of green tea and fennel tea, to keep your digestive system operating optimally — they help reduce indigestion, bloating, constipation, intestinal gas, heartburn, irritable bowels, and excessive flatulence.
If the habit of consumption is difficult to break (being used to eating or drinking with consistency throughout the day), replace what you’re drinking with water or tea.
Stretch and Sweat
Sweating is a powerful way to release toxins from the body.
Get to the gym, go for a run, visit a sauna, take an extra hot bath — whatever you can do to start pulling toxins from your body and restoring your organ systems to their peak performance levels.
You can do yoga for this, too. There are lots of poses that stretch and awaken the gut, and lots of studies proving that exercise enhances our digestive capabilities. A quick Google search for “yoga for gut health” will reveal tons of resources that specifically target the healing of unhappy guts.
It’s pretty likely that none of the damage you do during the holidays is permanent.
Although every year we should try to indulge more mindfully, losing control for a week or so isn’t the end of the world.
Just make sure that you clean up the mess when you’re finished playing!