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My #1 Tip For Healthy Holiday Eating

With the holiday weekend eminent, it's time to let loose. Sign out of the work email, put on the festive tunes for the road trip home, and enjoy the chaos of family and food and friends that comes about at Christmas. Does all of that chaos strike an anxious chord with you? Don't worry, because I've got you covered with my #1 tip for healthy holiday eating.


A row of pears

I'll keep it brief today, because if you're anything like me you've got one more day left in the working week as well as a few presents to purchase and wrap and undoubtedly you'll need to check your shopping list three more times just to be sure!


As I mentioned, today's blog post is dedicated to my #1 tip for healthy holiday eating. Recently, I had the pleasure of coming across a magazine spread at home where a health columnist shared her top tips for holiday eating. She shared clever ideas such as:


  • swapping your dessert platter for a fruit platter

  • considering swapping ordinary stuffing for whole grain or quinoa stuffing

  • making your own cranberry sauce instead of buying store bought versions (which assumedly contain more sugar)

  • steaming vegetables as opposed to oven roasting in fat


These are cute suggestions, but I personally think a key point is being missed on this list. It's that of the impact that stress and anxiety have on your digestion.


I find- and you might find too- that the holidays are fun and stressful in the BEST way. You have family and friends to catch up with, which is a welcomed break from the workplace obligations you have. However, for some, being surrounded by all the people and all the drinks can put you in a place of panic.


What if I'm sabotaging my goals? How hard am I going to have to work in the new year to "undo" my bad choices? Is it even worth trying to do anything now or just throw it all to h*** in a hand basket?

 

First, let's be clear: you are not doing yourself more harm than good by enjoying the holidays. Don't let that be the mentality you carry with you into 2024. I have more thoughts about this on my latest instagram post.


Next, let's address the list of healthy food swaps above. As much as it's looking to guide you on making healthier choices as to what you're physically putting into your mouth, it's not addressing the importance of chewing your food.


Now you're probably laughing; how can chewing your food help you? Stick with me, and I'll explain.


The physical act of digestion starts in the mouth. You chew your food, allowing food particles to be broken down and combined with your saliva so that food transforms into a substance that can be swallowed called chime. That chime then makes its way down to your stomach, where acid in your stomach further breaks food particles down so that your intestines can work more optimally to extract nutrients from your food.


If whole particles of food were to enter the digestive tract, as opposed to chime, your body has to work harder to break down and extract nutrients. This can often result in stomach cramping, bloating in the upper region of your abdomen, and in some serious cases it leads to an inflammed gut lining which is characteristic of IBD and Crohn's Disease.


When you chew your food, you give your body the time and ease of absorbing nutrients in a rested state. Chewing is an act of mindfulness that you can apply towards any meal- whether you are cooking at home or dining out, healthier choices or not.

 

What do you need to take away from this?


As much as it can matter about your physical food choices, chewing your food provides more facility for nutrient breakdown and absorption.


You could make all the healthy food choices in the world; however, if your body can't break the food down initially, you'll find you have a much harder time with symptoms such as bloating and acid reflux and upper abdominal stomach cramping.


No one needs that this holiday season!


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