Festive Digestion: Expert Advice for the Party Season

Words Pandora Paloma Photography Various

Parties with friends, family dinners, office treats - the holidays season isn't an easy one on our stomachs. Add to that the pressures and deadlines of the year's end, and for our bodies the festive times become anything but. We've spoken with Pandora Paloma, the founder of Rooted London, a food coach and a yoga teacher, whose aim is to get people off endless yoyo dieting and find a more mindful, deeper and positive connection to the foods we eat. Here she shares some quick tips on surviving the season. 

As we embark on the countdown to Christmas, with less work out time and more social commitments, the looming fear of weight gain can kick in. The festive season is a season of consumption – from gifts to what we guzzle – but this doesn’t mean we have to over-consume. We all know the uncomfortable sensation eating too much brings, but with a few tricks, you can make smarter choices and manage what I call, festive digestion.

Overeating causes metabolic processes to go into overdrive as they try to get rid of the huge food load. The pancreas secretes more insulin in order to process the sugar load and remove it from the bloodstream, plus it puts strain on your kidneys and liver as they filter the excess from the body. An unhappy body can create an unhappy mind. Very simply, overeating is just not worth it.


Prepping digestion

Maintaining digestive system health is essential, as it turns foods into nourishment. Weak digestion can cause bloating and gas so build a powerful digestive force in your stomach by incorporate fermented foods and pickles (such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha) into your diet in the run up to Christmas. The friendly bacteria found in these foods help to produce digestive enzymes that breakdown food. 

Apple cider vinegar is a great travel alternative. Drink one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water before each meal. *(Make sure to take care and consult your doctor if you have any known digestive disorders or suffer from a digestive illness.) Digestive enzymes can also help alleviate the bloat as they help break down your meals.

How to manage overeating

Visualise your day on a plate and how much you would normally consume. Now visualize this in a pie chart – breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the run up to Christmas, your bigger meal may be at dinner, so can you move some of your calories from breakfast and lunch, incorporating lighter meals here to compensate for dinner. It’s a juggling act but it’s all about finding your balance!

Top Tips

  • Increase your consumption of fruits (no more than 2 per day) and vegetables. Soups and smoothies are gentler on digestion and you can eat over time – slowing down the impact on your digestion.
  • Don’t add hidden calories into your meals. For example, almond butter is high in fat and calories so omit it from your morning smoothie!
  • Read the labels. Know what’s in your food from the ingredients to the calories. Think smarter about your food.
  • Find time for sleep. Various studies have shown we eat more when we're sleep deprived.
  • Make time to breathe. Sounds simple but just a few deep breaths before eating can help to rest our central nervous systems, allowing us to eat more mindfully.

Christmas is not the time to count calories, but rather learn how to listen to your body and what it needs vs. what it wants. It’s the ultimate testing ground for finding a comfortable relationship with food and so I welcome you to listen to your body, savour every mouthful and smile along the way.

You can find Paloma's wholesome and easy recipes, sign up to her yoga classes or find out more about catering your next big party the healthy way at Rooted London.

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