There are several times of year that are often considered “times of overindulgence”. This is particularly the case when it comes to big festive meals where it is common to hear a whining groan that someone feels far beyond stuffed. If this sounds uncomfortably familiar, take a look through these tips for healthier eating habits and food tricks that will serve you well and keep your family belly-ache-free.
FEASTING! Its all about WHEN, WHAT and HOW!
- Wait at least 4 hours between meals. Your body needs a break between meals for something called the MMC (migrating motor complex) basically a cleaning wave to move through your digestive tract. So you will be able to truly enjoy that special dinner feast if you have had a chance to properly digest your last meal. Reducing snacking is also important for weight management as the first three hours after meals are all about carbohydrate metabolism. It is only after this time that your body is able to break down any stored fat for energy.
- Exercise take a pause (from eating, cooking, fussing!).Get outside into the fresh air and snow if you have it! Alongside increasing our levels of feel-good neurotransmitters and igniting our metabolism for hours after, exercise has an incredibly positive impact on insulin regulation, which will also reduce cravings, low blood sugar crashes and the need to snack so that you can arrive at the feast truly ready to enjoy your meal to the fullest.
WHAT…to eat (and feel great about it!):
- If it’s a holiday season like Thanksgiving or Christmas, order an organic/free range turkey from a local farm.Many health food stores will advertise this, and more and more regular grocery stores are offering this healthier alternative. The same goes for any soy dish like ?Tofurkey? ? here, organic/non-GMO is especially important to look for, as soy is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed and genetically-altered plant foods out there.
- Focus on crispy vegetables. Don’t let them over-cook (think mushy Brussels Sprouts! Ick!). It’s ideal to have some fresh and crunchy contrast to the heavier meat and starchy classics. Some light and vibrant greens or salads of all vegetable varieties made with light vinaigrette dressing help refresh the palate and are an ideal complement here.
- Make it homemade. You can make a standard dish better, and cleaner, at home. Cranberry sauce is a great example ? most store-bought sauces are made with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). You can make your own with frozen cranberries and control the amount of sweetener, using more reasonable amounts of real cane sugar, honey or maple syrup.
HOW…to avoid post-meal regret:
- Begin with a Bitter! For better digestion vegetables like radishes, greens, salads with vinaigrettes, pickles, olives and, of course, the classic aperitif, will get your digestive juices flowing and start the process of metabolizing your meal.
- Avoid drinking water with meals. Water (and all re-hydrating fluids) dilutes digestive juices and prevents proper breakdown of food.
- Slow Down! Take a pause between bites and really chew your food! Allow your body time to register your intake and start the process of digestion. We are most likely to overeat when we eat quickly. The fullness barometer is bypassed when we consume at high speed.
LAST…and perhaps most (for the host)
Delegate, contribute and share! Putting together a winter feast for a group gathering is no small thing! People enjoy bringing an offering their own treasured family recipe or one that they have discovered or created themselves. It feels good to be part of the creative culinary team and a host that isn’t feeling stretched and overwhelmed allows for a more relaxed, festive atmosphere and more enjoyment for everyone!