Is the thought that Christmas is only two months away filling you with dread and not joy?
Do you see Christmas as a period of high stress and anxiety, with overindulgence of alcohol, party foods and sweets, rather than a relaxing festive season spent joyously with family and friends?
Will your digestion be struggling at the end of the year and your tummy looking like you are four months pregnant? Are you already planning a dry January when you cut out everything bad from your diet to get healthy again?
Please allow me to give you my top tips for supporting digestive health and avoiding the unattractive bloat over the festive season, while still enjoying yourself, so you’ll emerge in the New Year slim, sane and not needing a dry January!
Stress is a digestion killer!
When you are stressed your digestive system can’t digest the food you eat. We evolved with the ‘fight or flight’ stress response to be able to, literally, fight or flee from wild predators and survive.
That survival mode gives very little priority to digestion. In effect, it puts the digestive system on hold!
Tip #1 – Are You Managing Your Stress?
Daily stress management is essential! It’s particularly important during the busy and stressful festive season. Daily walks in nature, yoga or breathing exercises, even just for 10-15 minutes, can really help.
Just being mindful by slowing down and engaging all your five senses – look, listen, feel, smell, taste – in whatever you are doing, are great in capturing the power of now, forgetting your worries for a moment and creating a peaceful mind.
This will also benefit your digestive function when you are ready to eat.
Tip #2 – How Do You Eat?
Skip eating completely if you are stressed, anxious or angry! First deal with the root cause of these feelings, and when you have calmed down, eat your meal in a calm relaxed environment.
Make sure you sit down at a table.
Avoid eating in the car, at your desk, on the sofa, with your phone.
Take a couple of deep breaths and give your full focus to your plate.
Tip #3 – Do The Prep!
Prepare your meals yourself from scratch rather than getting takeaways or grabbing something quick on your way home.
When we think plan and prepare our meals, we are engaging our first digestive organ, our brain, which will send messages to the digestive system, telling it to get ready for the food we are about to eat.
The stomach starts releasing acid needed for breaking down proteins, which in turn triggers the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes required for fully breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the intestine, ready for absorption. So start cheffing!
Now you have my three top tips for managing stress, which will help your digestive function too. Start applying these now and your gut and digestion will thank you during the festivities.
Stay tuned for my top gut-friendly food tips in my next column early December.
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