The holiday season is here, and for many of us, that means parties — with lots of eating and drinking. Good health habits tend to fall by the wayside. Then we wake up in January feeling bloated, unhealthy, and wondering how to get rid of the belly fat.
Even for Savers, extravagant holiday meals can undo excellent health practices. Today we're going to explore seven simple steps you can take to minimize mindless munching, eliminate bloating, and stave off bone damage. You can also integrate these positive habits into your life and practice them all year long.
1. Get A Refill — Of Water!
Water is life. Our bodies are mostly water, just like the planet, so it makes sense that staying hydrated benefits your digestion, skin, mood, and, of course, your bones.1
You'll not only remain clear-headed — and better able to engage in sparkling conversation — you'll also build your bones and improve skin elasticity. No one needs to know you aren't drinking some exotic intoxicant (notice how that word contains “tox,” as in toxic?).
If you decide to imbibe, choose red wine, which contains the bone-healthy polyphenol resveratrol. Be sure to drink plenty of water both before and after the alcoholic beverages.
Holiday parties usually include drinking, but there's no reason your beverage of choice can't be delicious and revitalizing lemon water, which will keep you clear-headed and healthy, while also saving your bones from the acidifying effects of alcohol. If you do choose alcohol, make it red wine, which contains bone-healthy resveratrol.
2. Cultivate Calm
The holidays are notoriously stressful for most people, which is why it's so important to develop a sense of inner peace that can't be shaken by external circumstances.
Instead of trying to do it all this holiday season, place taking care of yourself at the top of your priority list. Practicing good health habits is the gift you give yourself, as well as those you love.
Trying to do it all during the holidays creates incredible stress. Instead, learn to say “no,” and to cultivate a sense of inner peace. Make taking care of yourself a top priority.
3. Eat Mindfully
Have you ever watched dogs eat? They eat so fast it seems they’re inhaling their food as soon as the bowl touches the ground. This may work for canines, but not so well for humans.
Just as fast food is harmful for your bones and overall health, eating food fast is also detrimental.
Eating is not a sport, and mealtime is not meant to be a multitasking event: something to do while driving, working, talking on your phone, etc. Because this time of year can be hectic, it's vital to make a conscious effort to slow down and eat peacefully (see #2 above).
If you eat very quickly, chances are you're not chewing your food thoroughly, allowing it to mix with saliva so proper digestion can take place. You're also swallowing a lot of air along with your food.
The result? Bloating and unwanted weight gain.
Eating fast and not chewing well is bad for your digestion, as you swallow a lot of air with the food. Take the time to sit down and eat mindfully, tasting and thoroughly chewing each bite. This will help avoid gas and bloating, and enable proper digestion.
4. Minimize Sugar
Did you know that the average American eats her or his weight in sugar annually?
That's shocking — especially when you consider the ramifications of excessive sugar consumption, which range from diabetes to heart disease to bone loss. Of course, it's a given that too much sugar also leads to obesity — as well as dental decay.3
Because sugar is a carbohydrate, overindulging means the excess is stored in your body as fat. In addition to the extra calories, sugar is highly addictive. Greater tolerance creates a vicious cycle of further sugar consumption, more calories, and additional weight gain.
This doesn't mean you have to refuse all of those delectable desserts, but rather, make sure you eat enough healthful foods to keep sugar cravings at bay so you can easily avoid excess sugar.
Some Foundation Foods Savers can enjoy to stabilize blood sugar levels include fish, apples, oats, and beans.
Cinnamon is also effective in maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. This is fortunate since cinnamon is popular this time of year in mulled cider and many other recipes. Enjoy!
Americans eat far too much sugar, which results in a wide range of debilitating conditions. Foundation Foods such as fish, apples, oats, and beans are excellent additions to your diet to balance blood sugar levels. Cinnamon, a popular holiday spice, is also very effective for stabilizing blood sugar.
5. Choose Sea Salt Or Herbs
Many people are in the habit of salting their food before they even taste it, or adding a lot of salt when cooking. But in addition to creating water retention, which causes bloating, a high sodium diet has been shown to lead to premature death.4
In lieu of processed table salt, choose sea salt, which is far more healthful.
You can also substitute herbs for salt to add flavor to your meals. Herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are more than song lyrics; they've also been scientifically shown to reduce bone turnover and prevent and reverse osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Overuse of highly processed table salt causes water retention, damages your bones, and studies have shown it can even lead to early death. Instead, choose sea salt or herbs, which will add flavor to your food, prevent bloating, and strengthen your bones.
6. Ditch The Dairy
Savers know dairy products are never a good choice. And because the majority of the population can’t digest cow's milk, people experience an inflammatory response: gas, belly pain, and bloating.
Also, because milk depletes calcium from your bones, drinking yogurt, kefir and sour cream, are all alkalizing, bone-smart alternatives.
Yogurt is full of probiotics, the good bacteria that promote strong digestion and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits — and even help you sleep. One study found probiotics reduce bloating and improve the health of patients with functional bowel disorders (FBDs).6.
While cow's milk is detrimental to your health, fermented and cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir and sour cream, are bone-smart alternatives. The probiotics in yogurt offer many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and sleep support. And they have been scientifically proven to reduce bloating.
7. Eat, Digest, Then Sleep
While it can be tempting to eat late at night and then fall into bed, especially if you're stretched thin during the holiday season, it isn't a good idea. Your body needs to be awake and vertical for optimum digestion. Otherwise, be prepared to be bloated in the morning.
And if you're planning to cook holiday meals, make a point to include delicious Foundation Foods that also help fight belly bulge. You can get all the details in the link below:
Digestion can't happen properly if you're lying down or while you’re asleep, so be sure to eat early enough in the evening. Doing this will allow enough time for digestion to take place before bedtime and avoid bloating.
And here’s the ultimate Saver smoothie to combat uncomfortable bloating.
Try our delicious and nutritious Cinn-a-Nut smoothie to help you prevent bloating over the holidays and year-round.
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/4 cup banana
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- a shake or two of cinnamon
- pinch of fresh basil (optional)
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Here's to a happy, healthy holiday season for all!
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1 Ahmed M. El-Sharkawy et al., “Acute and chronic effects of hydration status on health”, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue suppl_2, 1 September 2015, Pages 97–109. Web.https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/73/suppl_2/97/1930742
2 Lyte M et al., “Stress at the intestinal surface: catecholamines and mucosa-bacteria interactions.” Cell Tissue Res. 2011 Jan;343(1):23-32. doi: 10.1007/s00441-010-1050-0. Epub 2010 Oct 13. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20941511
3 Fernández-Bañares F et al., “Sugar malabsorption in functional abdominal bloating: a pilot study on the long-term effect of dietary treatment.” Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;25(5):824-31. Epub 2006 Jan 10. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16410032
4 David S. Celermajer and Bruce Neal, “Excessive Sodium Intake and Cardiovascular Disease”. Journal of the American College of Cardiology,Volume 61, Issue 3, January 2013. Web. https://www.onlinejacc.org/content/61/3/344
5 Karl Michaëlsson et al., “Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies”, BMJ 2014;349:g6015.Web. https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015
6 Ringel-Kulka T et al., “Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders: a double-blind study.” J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Jul;45(6):518-25. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21436726?dopt=Abstract