Maintain Healthy Digestion on a Holiday Menu

Maintain Healthy Digestion on a Holiday Menu

Eating habits can shift significantly over the holiday season.

Festive events often come with larger meal portions, heavier foods, and more deserts. When foods are suddenly different from what the body is used to receiving, digestive symptoms such as bloating, stomach pains, or bowel changes can occur.

While the specific foods eaten play a significant role in digestive function, supporting the gut in other ways can allow it to be more resilient to temporary dietary changes.

Here are some strategies to support the digestive system while indulging in holiday foods.

  • Take a deep breath before each meal and smell the food to engage the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system. This stimulates the gut to release more digestive juices that break down the food so it can be absorbed effectively by the body.
  • Chew food slowly and completely to maximize the physical break down of food in the mouth and reduce the workload for the rest of the digestive system.
  • Sip on lemon water or apple cider vinegar in water before meals to stimulate the secretion of stomach acid and digestive enzymes that break down food. Larger and heavier meals require more enzymes to digest, so supporting the body’s release of these enzymes is very beneficial.
  • Pair heavier meals with herbal teas such as peppermint, ginger, or fennel, which act to sooth and settle the gut.
  • Aim for healthier meals that you know are more well-tolerated by the body during times when there is more flexibility in meal planning.
  • Strive to indulge in deserts primarily after meals. Pairing sugar with protein, fiber, and healthy fat buffers against the spike in blood sugar that occurs when eating treats on their own.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to incorporate natural gut healing medicines to assist with digestion and support the overall health of the gut.

Dr. Caitlan Gignac
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose


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