Let’s be honest: we all tend to indulge a little during the holiday season.
There are so many good treats around the office and ugly sweater parties!! (TBH, I love wearing ugly Christmas sweaters).
If you’re like me, extra indulgence (or overeating) can come at a price. I start to feel bloated and distended from all the extra treats and rich foods.
It got so bad one year I had to unbutton my pants after Christmas dinner. (Thankfully I was wearing a chunky sweater). Wearing leggings with a stretchy waistband helps relieve some discomfort (pants are more restrictive and unforgiving), but the painful pressure and bloating still makes it difficult for me to sit without wincing.
I tried not eating, or only eating a little, and still I had tummy troubles.
My doctor told me the extra stress surrounding the holiday season can exacerbate digestive struggles, particularly stomach cramps, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation.
These symptoms are the last thing you want or need when seeing all your family!
Determined to be able to eat my Christmas dinner and feel JOLLY for once, I started researching the link between stress and digestion.
Being stressed definitely interferes with your natural ability to process and breakdown food. For me, I have to take an “offense” approach by reducing my total number of activities, scheduling a lot of “down time” in-between and not trying taking on roles or chores someone else can do.
I also need to be more strategic choosy about what I eat. I still have treats, but I know which ones bother me more than others. I indulge as safely as I can and try to balance it with a healthy meal (or a salad) at the next eating opportunity to help my body along (see below for some suggestions).
Here are my best tips for beating the holiday bloat, as well as some last-minute recipes for your healthy, plant-based holiday table!
7 Tips for Beating the Holiday Bloat + Stress
Brew a cup of tea
Digestive teas are the perfect antidote to digestive issues you may encounter after enjoying a particularly big Christmas dinner.
My favorites? The Ginger and Peppermint teas from Gaia Herbs.
The spicy natural oils in ginger will help soothe your upset stomach and provide a much-needed relief from digestive issues and bloating.
Try some healthy, plant-based swaps
Foods that are high in sugar and fats can lead to bloating and other digestive issues.
If you are already eating a plant-based diet, you will be automatically avoiding the worst GI offenders, like cheese and heavy cream.
However, even with a plant-based diet, there is usually some room for healthy swaps.
Try swapping out salty crackers for baked pita bread cut in triangles and consider using lighter, oil-free salad dressings for your salads. I’ve got some great oil-free salad dressing recipes right here.
Give plant-based probiotics a try
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha also contain probiotics (Probiotics aid digestion by helping the “good” bacteria in your stomach do their job).
I often sip kombucha instead of alcohol at parties.
Give your body a break
While it’s fun to eat our body weight in food sometimes, doing it every single day during the holiday season can really put a damper on our digestive system.
Go crazy on Christmas and New Years Eve, but make sure to alternate heavier eating days with lighter ones to minimize bloating and other uncomfortable side effects.
Go for a walk
Take a stroll to look at Christmas lights. A simple walk with your family can do wonders for your digestive system (and your stress levels).
Cardiovascular exercise helps minimize bloating, so bundle up and play in the snow.
Drink plenty of liquids
(And no, eggnog and mulled wine do not count.)
Stay hydrated by drinking more water than you feel like. Add some ginger-lemon tea to the mix to take advantage of ginger’s soothing effects.
Alcohol is also diuretic, which means that it will dehydrate you, exacerbating the uncomfortable after-effects of a Christmas feast.
Aim for at least one glass of water per alcoholic drink to avoid a hangover and minimize bloating!
Skip the guilt
There’s nothing worse than feeling guilty and sad about your food choices during the holiday season.
If you do indulge, do it with a light heart.
You will be right back on track soon enough.
If you need a little help with that, I’d love to help! I’m hosting a Vegan 2019 Detox event, and I’d love for you to join. We’ll be starting together on Wednesday, January 2.
The 2019 Detox Plan (with 13 brand-new detox recipes!) will be available in the Meal Mentor App on December 30th.
The Detox Plan is included free with your monthly membership. If you’re not a member yet, get started right here.
If you’re curious what foods I serve and eat at Christmas, here’s a list of my favorites:
Last-Minute Plant-Based Recipes for Your Holiday Table
For the main course: The Hippie Loaf
An easy, plant-based meatloaf alternative that will have your omnivore uncle asking for seconds.
A tasty extra: My family’s favorite gravy recipe
This delicious gravy will go great over your mashed potatoes.
The best part? It only takes 11 short minutes to make!
Guilt-free dessert: An easy fruit-crisp recipe
How Meal Mentor Can Help
If you enjoyed these tips and recipes, consider joining me and my fabulous MM posse for our yearly Detox Challenge starting January 2! (If that’s too soon for you, don’t worry, another group will start Monday, January 7th).
You’re welcome to join the challenge even if you aren’t going to use my special plan, but once you see the recipes, I know you won’t want to miss out.
Let’s start 2019 off strong, shall we?