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‘Tis the season for bloating, heartburn, and gas.

Too much food encourages what we eat to sit and rot.

This time of year, there are plenty of foods and drinks to warm the body and bring people together.

There are also plenty of opportunities for hidden digestive troubles to come to the surface.

Stay on top of your appetite and your health with these tips for the holidays.

1. Carry Digestive Enzymes with You

Whether you prefer to stash them in your purse or in your car, digestive enzymes can save you the grief that comes from eating too much of a good thing.

If your urge to overeat around the holidays feels uncontrollable, practicing the Principle of 80/20 can help. Eating until you are 80% full at each meal will give your body the chance to digest and reach satiety without overfilling.

Before a party or big holiday dinner, many of us eat little throughout the day in order to “prepare” for the big feast that is scheduled to take place later in the day.

By the time we eat, we are ravenous. And we are likely to overeat.

Too much food overwhelms the body and our digestive force. Too much food encourages what we eat to sit and rot. This can promote the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (where food should be moving through) and inhibit digestion.

The effect?

Gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, heartburn, and even constipation or diarrhea.

The benefits of good digestion begin in the mouth and stomach. This is where enzymes are released that start the process of breaking down food into small, usable bits.

If we eat more than usual or if we eat more animal protein, such as turkey, than we are accustomed to eating, we often do not have the digestive force necessary to break these foods down.

And while the holidays bring good times, they can also feel mildly stressful and chaotic to the nervous system.

Good digestion begins even before we take our first bite. Good digestion starts in the mind, which begins to initiate the release of gastric acid and enzymes.

When we are stressed, our nervous system decides to suspend digestive function until the mind can fully relax - one more reason not to eat on the go, while driving, or watching TV.

#1 Tip for the Holidays: Reinforce good digestion with the appropriate enzymes!

2. Remember the Principle of 80/20

Too much of a good thing brings us to the next tip that will spare you hours to days of regret.

The Principle of 80/20 reminds us the gut works best when it is not overwhelmed by too much food or too much drink. This means two things:

  1. Combine food in ways that encourage optimal digestion. This means filling 80% of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fermented vegetables. The remaining 20% of your plate should contain starchy vegetables, grain-like seeds, or animal protein.
  2. Eat until you are 80% full. When you eat until you’re 80% full, you have most likely reached satiety. Give yourself 20 minutes to think it over (the time it takes for hormones to kick in to signal you are full). If you’re still hungry, grab another plate and continue to follow the Principle of 80/20. 

The Principle of 80/20 encourages us to be mindful while we eat.

This is a good thing. While the act of mindfulness helps us to eat less, it also helps us to savor the food on our plate while feeling gratitude for the family and friends that sit at our table. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

3. Good Bacteria Can Help You Recover

Sometimes we eat too much even though we know we shouldn’t.

Sometimes we eat foods that we know the immune system and the gut react to.

Sometimes desire overrides our better judgment.

If this happens to you, you can support your entire body with a few ounces of coconut water kefir or a probiotic beverage.

Good bacteria help to cleanse the body. They can also help to keep bacterial overgrowth in check and prevent disease-causing microorganisms from dominating the intestinal environment. Good bacteria can interact with the immune system and help to heal an inflamed gut wall.

A few ounces of a probiotic beverage can quiet the first signs of intestinal bloating or cramping.

If you follow none of our holiday survival tips, you can still guide your body and your digestion back into balance with good bacteria! 

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Holiday survival starts by focusing on your digestive health first of all. Consider these helpful tips to support digestion throughout the holiday season:

  1. Bring digestive enzymes with you to any celebration. If you find yourself likely to overeat on the holidays, using digestive enzymes can help to start the process of healthy digestion before heartburn, cramps, and bloating occur.
  2. Practice the Principle of 80/20. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. When practicing the Principle of 80/20, it’s recommended to eat 80% fermented vegetables or non-starchy vegetables with 20% starchy vegetables, grain-like seeds, or animal protein at each meal. In addition, remember to eat until you are 80% full so that you don’t overdo it!
  3. Use good bacteria for recovery. Even if you overeat this holiday season, remembering this one tip will make a world of difference: Support your gut with a few ounces of coconut water kefir or a probiotic beverage to cleanse the body and heal inflammation. This is one quick way to stop cramping or bloating before it starts.
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Body Ecology Thanksgiving Menu
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