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5 Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

By Expert HERWriter
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stay healthy for the holidays MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers devoured and shopping has begun. Many are beginning to decorate their houses for the holidays and plan for the parties at schools, neighborhoods, work, and with friends.

It's the time of year when delicious food becomes a focus, as everything revolves around sugar and butter. This often means that well-intentioned plans of staying healthy fall by the wayside until January second.

Don't get down on yourself. Use these 5 tips to help keep you balanced through the rest of the year.

First, be good when you can.

Specifically, pay attention to what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you are going to snack on treats during the day and enjoy parties at night. Focus on foods with high protein and vegetables, such as a smoothie, or eggs and spinach in the morning.

Eat vegetable chicken soup and salad for lunch. Then choose lean protein, vegetables, soups and salads at night.

When you find yourself reaching for cookies or fudge during the day, grab carrots or celery and start crunching. The sound of the crunch is satisfying and may take your mind off the sugar cravings.

Second, do not ignore your exercise routine.

In fact, consider taking it up a notch. Burn off the extra drinks, the coffee cake, the chocolate pretzels and the sugar cookies.

If you normally exercise three days per week, increase it to four. If you have a typical routine, shake it up with a new class.

Search options online so that you can work out from home instead of heading to the gym due to time constraints.

Third, plan ahead.

All that sugar, fat and alcohol can make one feel bloated, heavy, sluggish and puffy. Consider taking digestive enzymes when you eat to help your body digest all those heavy foods better. Probiotics can help with intestinal health, the immune system and may improve bloating.

All the rich foods may make one prone to gout. Research shows that eating cherries or drinking cherry extract can prevent this painful joint condition.

Fourth, fall back on common tricks used during the season.

Eat before a party to feel full. Drink water and remain hydrated or opt for sparkling water instead of alcohol.

Walk away from the table full of food or the trays of snacks brought to work. Give away baked goods as gifts instead of keeping them around the house or limit the amount of sugar allowed in your house during the season.

Choose your snacking wisely – only go for things you really want or only get once a year instead of something you could eat anytime.

Fifth, manage your stress.

‘Tis the season for meltdowns and family drama. Between the baking, cooking, planning, travelling, packing, organizing, shopping, wrapping and managing ... remember to take some time for you. Get a good solid eight hours of sleep so that you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Say "no" to things that really aren’t that important and choose not to volunteer for everything. Divide out the responsibility amongst your family or friends when it comes to parties or gifts and remember to make your list and check it twice to stay organized.


1. Cherries May Prevent Gout Flares. Web. 25 November, 2012.

2. Use of Probiotics in Gastrointestinal Disorders. Web. 25 November, 2012.

Reviewed November 26, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment3 Comments


I love good tips, now I must take the directions given in the tips!

November 28, 2012 - 12:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

America prepares to gather around the dinner table at Holidays Feasts once again. As we do, we may remember lessons from years gone by, and how too many of us may have felt gassy, bloated, and unhealthy.

This year, take a lesson or two from the Puristat Digestive Wellness Center. They will keep you away from the dreaded "Food Coma", and ready to win that post-meal game of backyard football.

Top 10 Tips for Healthy Digestion During The Holidays:

1. Eat in order of digestibility.

You should eat the easiest to digest foods first in each meal and slowly move towards the more complex. Think of a highway, if the slowest cars are in front they'll hold up the faster cars behind them, causing a traffic jam. The same goes for your food. Eat those fastest to digest first and save the tougher to digest foods for the second half of your meal.

Here are the time sequences for different food groups:

Water & Juices: 20-30 minutes

Fruits, Smoothies, Soups: 30-45 minutes

Vegetables: 30-45 minutes

Beans, Grains, Starches: 2-3 hours

Meat, Fish, Poultry: 3 or more hours

2. Drink warm or hot liquids with your meal.

Ice cold drinks can slow down the digestive process, think of it as putting ice on a muscle. The muscle stiffens and does not function as well. Warm or room temperature water, juice, or decaf tea will encourage proper digestion. (Just remember the traffic jam – drink liquids prior to meals)

3. Eat Thanksgiving dinner at a "regular" meal time.

All too often this dinner is outside of when we usually eat meals. It is important to be regular with what you eat and the times of day you eat. Eating similar food groups and at similar times each day has a regulating effect on your digestive system. Regular in means regular out.

4. Be conscious of what you eat and your portion sizes.

Over consumption is the number one cause of indigestion. Our brain signals the feeling of fullness about ten minutes after we're actually full. So stop eating before you are full. Odds are you'll feel full ten minutes later!

5. Chew your food completely and don't talk while eating.

Tell this tip to those dreaded in-laws who we all need to tolerate this time of year. Incomplete chewing and talking while eating can cause premature swallowing. Our digestive systems are not designed to digest large pieces of food, when we put large pieces in our stomachs it can lead to incomplete digestion (aka: digestive discomfort). Sometimes a silent family makes for a happy family!

6. Relax while eating your meal.

Eating when you are rushed increases your stress and slows down the digestive process. Create a nice calming atmosphere when eating and make sure you can devote time to eating. Don't worry, the apple pie will still be there after you finish eating!

7. Practice good posture.

When you slouch or hunch over extra pressure is put on the digestive organs in your abdomen. This extra pressure can cause poor digestion. You should practice sitting with your shoulders back and your chin tucked in. This will allow more room for the digestive organs and will help improve digestion.

8. Don't eat late at night.

Leftovers are a staple of Thanksgiving, right? You're better off saving them for the next day... not for a midnight snack. Our bodies, including our digestive system, slow down in the evening hours as it gets ready to rest and rejuvenate. When we put food into our stomachs at these late hours there are not enough digestive enzymes to properly digest it. This undigested food sits in your stomach and will often disturb your sleep.

9. Get involved in the post-meal backyard football game, or take a brisk walk after eating.

Forget about not be active for 30 minutes after each meal. Increased physical activity actually helps jump-start your digestive system and increases the production of digestive enzymes. This will lead to more complete digestion of your food and less digestive discomfort!

10. Try a spinal twist.

Talk about a real opportunity to bond as a family... Spinal twists allow excess toxins in the digestive system to be released, which has a calming effect. While in a cross legged sitting position, slowly turn to the right and hold while taking 5 deep breathes then repeat this process on the left side (singing "kumbaya" is strictly optional).

There you have it! Follow these tips and you'll feel so much healthier this year.

Better yet... Print a copy for each of your guests... they'll thank you for being so thoughtful!

Happy Holidays!

The Puristat Digestive Wellness Team

November 27, 2012 - 2:43pm

Excellent job and do not forget dental hygiene during the holiday season as well!

November 26, 2012 - 11:37am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.