Post written by Caroline Farquhar, R.H.N., B.A.
During the holidays do you worry about how comfortable your clothes are going to fit after you eat rather than how fashionable they are? Whether it’s from overeating, eating foods you aren’t used to, talking when you eat, drinking carbonated beverages or not producing enough digestive enzymes, there are steps you can take to alleviate indigestion.
Chew Your Food Well
A lot of people have poor digestion simply because they don’t chew their food enough. How many of us are so starved or distracted by the TV that we just gulp down our food without chewing? We should be chewing our food until it’s a mushy paste. Slow down and savour your food, your gut will thank you for it.
Eat Good Food
Get into the practice of eating clean, wholesome and preferably organic food; it will go a long way to improve digestion. Processed and refined foods lack many of the essential nutrients our body needs to manufacture digestive enzymes. They may also contain chemicals and ingredients that our body has a hard time breaking down.
Drink Clean Water
Since the body consists mostly of water, you should be ensuring that you are drinking enough pure, clean water every day. This does not mean coffee or pop, it means water. To determine how much water you should be drinking in a day, take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2. This is the number of ounces of water you need per day. Water is vital for keeping the digestive process in good working order and is naturally detoxifying. Limit the amount of water or other fluids you drink with your meals, as this can inhibit digestion.
Our bodies were not designed to digest the enormous amounts of food we are consuming in this day and age and certainly around the holidays. Portion control is key; just because it’s on your plate doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all in one sitting. Consider the amount of food you are putting on your plate and remember that small, more frequent meals are easier on your digestive tract.
When it comes to hunger, there is a hormone called cholecystokinin that helps regulate satiety. Fibre increases production and prolonged activity of this hormone so eating a meal consisting of fibre rich veggies and some protein will ensure you don’t over-indulge. Fibre also keeps you feeling fuller longer with no calories so it’s good for the waistline too!
Choose Your Actions Wisely
If you are going to a function at night, don’t starve yourself all day to overindulge later. Choose indulgences wisely, pick two or three things you love and savour them. And for goodness sake, don’t stand next to the buffet table!
Take Digestive Enzymes
Gas, bloating, belching, heartburn and constipation are all symptoms of indigestion. Digestive enzymes help to break apart the bonds that hold nutrients together so your body can absorb them. Taking digestive enzymes with each meal can help ensure your body has the tools it needs to break down food properly. There are many to suit each individual’s needs. For those who have a sensitive gut that irritates easily, you should look out for enzymes that contain soothing herbs like marshmallow to ease your woes. For those with heartburn caused by low stomach acid, a formula with betaine HCL should be chosen. If you are one to have gas, bloating, stomach upset and belching on a regular basis regardless of food type, then an extra strength enzyme blend is right for you.
A healthy, efficient digestive system is imperative for optimal health. Taking a few small precautions can help you to eat, drink AND be healthy this holiday season!