With the Holiday Season upon us, of course it is centered around getting together with friends and family, but another big part of the Holidays is centered around food... and sometimes not the healthiest of meals either. Especially with the change of weather to a colder climate around this time of year, the holidays can encourage overeating, sedentary behavior and consumption of calorie rich foods. It is the easiest time of year to gain weight and can cause sluggish digestion. There are a few tricks to prevent weight gain and help keep the flow of digestion regular.
Movement of any sort is helpful to keep the metabolism revved up as well as aid in the flow of digestion. Whether it is a walk, lifting weights, going for a swim, any form of exercise will get the blood and fluids flowing in the body and help with circulation of all bodily systems. Exercise also helps expend energy (calories) helping to balance out energy intake that is gained through food.
Adequate water is an essential not only during the holidays, but as a daily requirement as well. Most people mistake hunger for thirst, which can lead to overeating. A good way to find out if you are truly hungry is to try a full glass of water first instead of food. If you still feel you are hungry after, then its true hunger and having water helped to partially fill your system, which will help to not over eat. However, most people lose the sensation of hunger after drinking that glass of water. In addition to this, drinking water will help with electrolyte balance and hydrating inner bodily systems. The food around this time as well can tend to be on the saltier side, so making sure you have a good water intake will keep you from dehydration. It will also keep your system flushed instead of causing water retention. Alcohol is also very dehydrating, and drinking enough water will help prevent and keep away a hangover the next day.
Since the temptation is always there, if you do happen to eat too much, or eat something that your body isn’t used too, here are a few different herbal remedies to calm the stomach. Sliced fresh ginger in hot water helps soothe the stomach with its warming properties it helps to relax the stomach muscles and decrease bloating for easier digestion. Lemon in water or pure lemon juice will actually relax the intestines and promote peristalsis of a full digestive tract. Peppermint is a popular herb and flavor around this time of year, but the real peppermint leaf in a tea or essential oil can help relax the stomach and bowels as well for more proper digestion.
Acupuncture is also amazing at regulating digestion. There are certain acupoints along the abdomen that can activate digestion and peristalsis, which can sometimes have immediate affects. It is one of the most effective ways at clearing a backed up digestive system, without having to use harsh laxatives. In addition to improving digestion, acupuncture can also help with weight loss. Acupuncture can help control appetite satiation, and also release chemicals from the brain such as dopamine or serotonin, which increase happy moods and decrease feelings of wanting to eat.
With all of this said, indulgence is okay every once and a while. The holidays shouldn’t be a time of deprivation either. Using these tips should help keep the balance and start another new year off strong!
Stephanie Ertl LAc.