How to survive and thrive during food holidays

Holidays that revolve around food, like Hanukkah and Christmas, are opportunities to reconnect with family and friends, but it’s also a time when we can get sidelined by sickness or stress. By intentionally focusing on digestive issues during the holidays, you also end up improving your overall health. You can fully savor the holidays while keeping your stomach happy and your waistline in check.

Don’t overeat. That’s easier said than done, but Americans eat hundreds of extra calories during every holiday meal, which can lead to heartburn or indigestion.

  • The lower water and fiber content of some holiday food can lead to constipation.
  • If there’s something on the table that you love, but it isn’t a “special” holiday food, skip it in favor of the dishes that only come during the holidays.
  • Ingest healthy foods: fiber, fermented foods like yogurt, vegetables like broccoli, and fruit.
  • 60 to 80 percent of our immune system is housed in the gut, so keep it healthy.

Changing routine and traveling can derail a workout schedule, but exercise burns calories, helps digestion AND lowers stress.

  • Toss a ball before meals, take a walk and help clean the kitchen.
  • Plan ways to work in exercise before you embark on your holiday journeys.
  • Combat stress by breaking away. Busy social schedules and being with people outside our normal circle can take a toll. Find quiet moments for yourself.

Don’t forget food safety:

  • Follow food safety guidelines – practice good sanitation when preparing food and keep dishes at proper serving temperatures.
  • Watch alcohol intake. Too much can dehydrate you. It also impacts the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Don’t neglect food sensitivities or allergies. Speak with your host beforehand about bringing or making dishes that are safe to consume.

The holidays should be magical and fun, not spoiled by digestive issues. A little preparation can go a long way to making it so.