1) Start your day off with a high protein, high fiber breakfast!
Studies have shown that starting the day with a lower carb and a higher protein and fiber breakfast is best at keeping insulin levels low and blood sugar levels balanced, which are important factors in reducing fat storage and weight gain. Whole free-run eggs, a spinach/veggie omelet, a chia seed pudding with fruit, or a protein smoothie with a small serving of berries and chia seeds are all perfect breakfast options which are sure to satisfy hunger and beat sugar cravings later in the day!
2) Include a Green-Super-Food detoxifying drink first thing in the morning
Greens drink supplements such as Greens+ by Genuine health, or VEGEGREENS by Progressive are examples of greens-super-food drinks that really help the body detoxify, especially after a few drinks and indulgence in treats. These greens formulas contain vital ingredients which aim to provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber for increased energy and overall well-being. These potent ingredients will also help to alkalinize the body creating a more favourable environment for digestive balance, mineral absorption, and optimal health. As a result, bowel function will increase and you will be able to excrete internal toxins and excess weight, enabling you to feel less bloated.
3) Don’t drink all of your calories and don’t forget to drink enough water!
While it’s easy to overindulge in too many Christmas sangrias, cocktails, fruit juices, peppermint mocha Christmas lattes and creamy Christmas shooters, all of these spike sugar and insulin levels and greatly contribute to weight gain. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that sugar sweetened beverages accounts for over 185,000 deaths around the world every year from heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Replace these sugar sweetened beverages for more water to help your body flush out more toxins, combat dehydration, and actually reduce hunger, because many people mistake being dehydrated for being hungry!
4) Help fight stress by eating foods rich in magnesium
The holidays can be pretty stressful – finding the perfect gifts for loved ones and friends, travelling, and hosting events at your home. Finding natural ways to manage stress during this time becomes extremely useful! Snacking on foods that are rich in magnesium like pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, and leafy greens will help give your body plenty of magnesium, which can help to reduce your stress levels and will even help you get a better night’s sleep. It is important to note that magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in Canada and the risk of magnesium deficiency increases when a person has IBS due to poor absorption and increased loss due to diarrhea. Magnesium is essential for regulating glucose uptake, transmission of nerve and muscle impulses, and again for proper sleep, relaxation, and reducing stress.
5) Don’t forget about Fiber!
People can become so concerned with eating the right macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) that they often forget about the indigestible carbohydrate, fiber! Although the body does not use fiber as energy, it is hugely important to help you to maintain your blood sugar levels as well as encourage the elimination of toxins from your body through the bowels. High fiber foods such as hemp, chia, flax, and fresh vegetables help eliminate excess hormones like estrogen through the bowels and help decrease overall toxicity in the body. Fiber is also notorious to help reduce feelings of hunger, thus keeping you feeling full longer, and to combat bloating.
6) Fill the majority of your plate up with greens.
Eating a rainbow coloured diet is one of the best ways to ensure your body is getting all of the nutrients it requires. Green foods are especially beneficial around the holidays because dark green leafy vegetables are packed with nutrients like chlorophyll which helps to cleanse the blood, as well as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, substances which help boost detoxifying enzymes, and support liver function to combat feelings of heaviness after a holiday feast. Great choices of leafy greens include spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and arugula.
7) Avoid the dirty two: dairy and gluten containing products
If you want to fight the bloat and keep digestion in-check over the holidays, one of the best ways to do this is by avoiding two highly common food allergens – dairy and gluten.
Firstly, although it can be difficult to avoid dairy products such as milk, cheese and creams during the holidays (who doesn’t love a good hot chocolate, cheese platter, or eggnog?), these foods are heavy, very difficult to digest and highly acidic, which will throw your body’s pH out of whack! When the body becomes too acidic, increased symptoms of insomnia, water retention, migraine headaches, dry hard stools, and arthritis can occur. Secondly, next to gluten, dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in the modern diet. This leads to increased bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and acne. The sugar (lactose) and the proteins (casein and whey) in dairy are what give it these inflammatory properties in the body. Especially susceptible individuals are those who are lactose intolerant as they do not produce the lactase enzyme, which is required to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This worsens the accompanied digestive issues whenever they consume dairy products.
In regards to gluten, not only is gluten a common allergen which can trigger IBS symptoms, it wreaks havoc on the digestive system as a whole as it is highly inflammatory. It is extremely hard for the body to break down, especially in people with low stomach acid and low intestinal enzymes, and can greatly contribute to bouts of diarrhea, constipation, and thus bloating.
If you're trying to cleanse your body, eliminating dairy and gluten completely, or at least cutting back drastically is a great place to start.
Great dairy alternatives include unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk and coconut based yogurts and creams.
Great gluten alternatives include quinoa, rice, almond flour, amaranth, and buckwheat.
8) Exercise, exercise, exercise!
One of the best ways to beat the bloat and help the body detoxify during the holidays is to EXERCISE! Exercise is also one of the best ways to managing stress, balance blood sugar levels, and help fight obesity, diabetes, and weight gain. Exercise such as jogging, resistance training, swimming, yoga, dancing, and stretching, are perfect to incorporate into each day for at least 30 minutes.