My digestive system is a delicate flower. It took me years to embrace this truth and respond with action by tending to my digestive system with purpose and compassion.
When the holiday season strikes, if I’m not prepared, I can send my tummy into a panic.
For years, I abandoned my daily practices go during the holiday season. My belief was that celebration required full-on hedonism. I believed in order to have fun, libations and my sweet tooth should not be restrained.
Mid life has a way of sobering my youthful casting cares to the wind.
Maybe you can relate.
- Post party blues. Sugars in alcohol and desserts provide a temporary high that is followed by a dip. Once the blood sugar levels begin to cycle high and low, it’s challenging to bring them back into balance. Swinging blood sugar levels result in swinging emotions.
- Bloating. Sugar and alcohol are two substances that directly enter the blood stream from the tummy. The body doesn’t welcome the dump of sugar and swells in it’s attempt to process the assault.
- Middle of the night wakefulness. This is the result of your body’s attempt to metabolize the sugars and fats. After the body processes the sugar, energy is increased and you are awakened. The body is ready to play.
- Morning fatigue. Instead of resting and rejuvenating during the sleeping hours, your body has been digesting and working overtime. There’s just no rest for the holiday weary!
- Food cravings. Typical holiday fare is laced with sugar and other addictive chemicals whether in the form of alcohol, sweets, preservatives or simple carbohydrates. It takes no time to elicit the body’s unsatiable appetite for food that delivers a high. It’s literally a chemical reaction that is fast and furious. Addictive properties require a strategic plan. Temptations vary. Know your temptations and have a strategy before they are offered on an irresistible silver platter.
Here’s the deal. You can attend all your holiday parties and enjoy yourself without compromising your digestive system.
These simple practices will support your digestive system.
There are many aspects to this simple practice.
The holiday season can sweep us away and before you know it, we are at the beck and call to everyone else’s needs, desires and traditions and very far from ourselves.
Foster an island of respite during this busy time of year. Start each day before the hustle and bustle kicks in with a moment, or two, or three of connection with yourself and your soul. Take a moment to see yourself and just BE present.
What do you really want?
If you fill your time or your tummy with what you don’t want or what your body struggles to digest, you will not be able to metabolize your life or food.
Be intentional about the feeling states you desire and how you want to feel post party. Don’t blindly show up at a holiday party without a plan. How do you want to feel the morning after the party? Maintain your vision with a plan.
I was a serious sugar addict for many years. Last holiday season I wanted to see if I could make it through sugar free. Diabetes runs in my family and I have signs of insulin resistance so this is an area of my health where I need to be mindful and careful.
I was successful because I had a plan. I didn’t even have my normal See’s Candies fix. Our peanut butter balls were made sugar free thanks to my daughter and they were delicious, satisfying and better. You’ll find my daughter’s delicious recipe at the end of this post.
You don’t need to be as radical as I was. We are all different. Be intentional about how you want to feel and what decisions and choices you need to make to accomplish your desired feeling state.
The adage, “without vision, the people perish” is deeply true. Take time to craft your holiday plan.
Track water intake daily. Drink at least 75oz of water daily. A minimum of 50% of your body weight in water. I drink a minimum of 100oz daily. Every cell in your body is dependent on hydration. Digestion and elimination require proper hydration.
I always enter a party hydrated. The first drink I request is a glass of water. If I’m going to have alcohol I increase my water intake. If I’m going to have two drinks, I drink an 8oz glass of water in between each drink.
SUPPORT YOUR BODY’S ABILITY TO DIGEST FOOD
Start your day with a warm glass of lemon water which will help your digestive system maintain a healthy PH balance. Mix the juice of one lemon (I prefer organic when available) with 12-16 oz of warm water.
Drink 1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water in the morning and before each meal. You can blend the raw apple cider vinegar and lemon water if you prefer. I prefer to keep them separate because I don’t always need to acidic support of apple cider vinegar.
Your stomach should be highly acidic so that it can break down proteins, carbs and fats. Raw apple cider vinegar helps to maintain an acidic stomach.
FOLLOW THE FAT, FIBER, PROTEIN RULE
Each time you eat, be sure it’s a combination of fat, fiber and protein so that your body has the nutrients it needs to support healthy blood sugar levels, food breakdown and elimination.
Typically, we miss the fiber. Be mindful about eating fruits and vegetables and other healthy fibers like seeds. Fibers help stabilize blood sugar levels and move the food through your digestive track and waste through the colon.
I’m not talking about crazy exercising rather movement. This is where the holiday merrimaking can work for you. Get out on the dance floor. Dance. Walk whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Don’t wait until after the holidays to exercise. If you have an exercise routine, keep it. Movement improves mood, digestion and elminination.
You don’t need to compromise your health to have fun. You can delight yourself in holiday merrymaking and feel fabulous before, during and after.
Ready, set, celebrate!
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Balls
Recipe from “Oh She Glows”
- 1 cup 100% natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) *We prefer crunchy for texture.
- 3.5-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste (see note)
- 1-3 tablespoons coconut flour, only if needed
- fine grain sea salt, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
- 6 tablespoons gluten-free rice crisp cereal
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Stir the jar of peanut butter well before using. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter and maple syrup vigorously, for 30-60 seconds, until it thickens up. It will go from runny to thick during this time.
- Stir in the coconut flour until combined (if your PB is dry, you might be able to skip this step or only use half). We’re looking for a texture that isn’t too sticky, but not too dry either. Let it sit for a couple minutes to firm up as the coconut flour will continue to absorb moisture with time. Add a touch more coconut flour if necessary. Or if it’s too dry, add a touch more syrup.
- Add salt to taste and stir in the cereal.
- Shape into small balls (I made about 17).
- In a small pot, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently. Once half the chips have melted, remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
- With a fork, dip the balls into the melted chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate on the side of the pot and place the ball on a plate or cutting board lined with parchment. Repeat for the rest. Save any leftover melted chocolate for later.
- Place balls in the freezer for around 6-8 minutes until mostly firm.
- Dip a fork into the leftover melted chocolate and drizzle it on top of the balls to create a “sophisticated” design like the baking diva you are.
- Freeze the balls for another 10-15 minutes, until the chocolate is completely set. If you can wait that long, you win life.
The kind of peanut butter you use will impact the end result. I use no sugar, natural, crunchy peanut butter without oils which means I need less coconut flour. If your peanut butter has oil, your mixture will be moist and you may need more coconut flour. If your peanut butter has sugar, you may not need the maple syrup. Go slow and add smaller amounts of coconut flour and maple syrup and taste test as you go.