You’re invited! For many, the holiday season is packed with parties, big family dinners, office treats, and celebration after celebration. Think cookies, cakes, appetizer trays, champagne, and so much more. It’s the most wonderful time of the year — except for your digestive system.
The holidays are a time for celebration, not for abstaining from the things that bring you joy. “There’s nothing wrong with absolutely savoring your favorite foods,” says Lynn Green, nurse practitioner and master herbalist. “I would never tell anyone not to eat their favorite foods at the holidays.” Instead, find a balance between healthy habits and festive fun and your gut will thank you.
Below, Green shares her top tips for digestive health through the holidays so you can make merry without feeling miserable.
Slow down and savor the flavor.
If you wait all year for certain holiday-centric foods, make the most of every moment! Green recommends slowing down and enjoying every bite and taking the time to relish the flavors of your go-to holiday treats and meals.
Taking time to really chew your food is more important to digestion than you may think. “When we talk about digestion, it’s not all in the stomach,” says Green. “Amylase is in saliva, and it breaks down complex carbs in your mouth. The better your food is chewed, the better the acid in your stomach can break apart complex proteins.” If you often experience an upset stomach after a rich dinner, it may be in part due to a lack of fully chewing your food, so take your time and really savor what’s on your plate.
Eat before you party.
“We make our worst choices when we’re hungry,” says Green. While you should absolutely enjoy yourself at the dinner or event and try out those appetizer trays, eating something healthy at home pre-party means you won’t be starving when you get there. When you’re filling up your plate at the party, add a few extra veggies for an extra dose of nutrition.
Watch the holiday spirits.
Alcohol is a mainstay at many holiday events, but watch out before reaching for that third cup of punch. “One of the best things to avoid is too much alcohol,” Green explains. “Alcohol can irritate the mucosal lining.” Try drinking something non-alcoholic between every drink; staying hydrated is key to skip the hangover in the AM.
Bring a healthy dish to the potluck.
Are you in charge of the veggie platter? Sneak in some pre- and probiotics! “During the holidays, especially when we’re drinking too much and not eating right, I would suggest taking a probiotic daily along with fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and refrigerated pickles, and incorporating more of those type of foods into our diet as well as probiotics,” says Green.
“If you’re making a party platter, think about what you want to eat – can you add fermented foods?” Pickled veggies, kimchi, and yogurt-based dips are delicious, easy, and digestion-friendly.
Stock your supplement cupboard.
Be prepared and stock up on digestive support so it’s there when you need it... Lactase Enzyme can help support the digestion of dairy, while Mega-Zyme® supports digestion and helps prevent occasional gas and bloating.* Ginger Root provides traditional digestive support.* Take the licorice-flavored DGL after a meal for soothing digestive relief.*
Sip a post-dinner aperitif.
Aperitifs aren’t just for fancy restaurants! Try a small glass of bitters after a particularly rich, filling meal; we love NatureWorks® Swedish Bitters, made with an aromatic blend of high quality herbal extract for traditional digestive support.* Cheers!