Big festive meals, holiday parties, after work social events. The festive season kicked off this past weekend with Thanksgiving and keeps on rolling right through until January. Indulging in our favourite foods is part of what makes life fun, but overindulging, well that’s where things get a little crazy. If your feeling bloated, tired, or sluggish after an indulgent meal (or weekend) then we’re here to help! We went to our team of wellness experts to get their insights on how to get back on track, ditch the guilt, and feel great all festive season long.
Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian, Cookbook Author & Host of Urban Vegetarian
Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mindset
One of the eating behaviours I have worked hardest to transform in myself, and that many of my clients struggle with is the all-or-nothing mindset that is so understandably human. When we create strict rules (no carbs! no cheese! no wine!) our willpower can shut off a little bit, and we simply go with the restrictive flow. Of course, absolutes rarely last, and breaking the ‘rules’ feels like more of a crisis than it really is.
A single meal will never determine your health; however, feeling guilty about a bit of overindulgence can be the trigger that launches a few months of full-out feasting.
The secret to staying on track? Realizing that you never went off-track in the first place. This subtle shift has changed everything for me and my enjoyment of food. I can enjoy the foods I truly want, in the amount that feels best, because I am not worried about whether or not I am breaking the rules.
Get Back to Routine
Because I am prone to digestive troubles, a routine is even more important to maintaining balance. Guts love routine, which explains why you can feel so off during a holiday or a busy period at work. For me, one of those grounding routines is my vegetable habit. Post-feast I naturally gravitate towards even more veggie-centric meals for a day or two. Vegetables fill me up, provide energizing nutrition to combat the fatiguing effects of over-indulgence, and provide fibre that supports better digestion and a healthy bacterial community.
Take Your Probiotics
No matter where I am or what I’m eating, my favourite ally in better digestion is my daily bottle of Bio-K+ Blueberry. When I take my Bio-K+ regularly, I find that it helps me weather the storm of indulgence without losing too much ground to digestive troubles. The powerful probiotic bacteria in Bio-K+ help create a more resilient flora that bounces back faster and leaves you less prone to gas and bloating.
Food is more than the nutrients it contains…it is also an important part of our social and cultural connection. Enjoy the feast – and those you share it with. And let that sense of well-being translate into a more conscious wellness mindset that will take you through the week.
Abby Langer, Toronto-based media and consulting dietitian, food writer, and recipe developer
Go into the Season with a Clear Head
I like to be prepared before the party even begins. I mean how many times a year do you even get to eat pumpkin pie? I’m not going to tell you not splurge! Go into the situation with a clear head though. Eat your favourites, enjoy your food (and the company), and try not to overdo it – remember the first bite is always the best bite.
It’s Not the End of the World
I have a lot of clients who have come to me thinking that one or two indulgent days means that they’ve completely blown their diet. They then proceed to carry the indulgence into the following weeks and months, instead of just getting back to their regular, healthy diet. This all-or-nothing attitude, while very common, is a huge saboteur! It’s a lot easier to undo a few days of less-than-healthy eating than to undo months of it.
Treat Your Gut Right
Big fatty meals and foods that are highly processed can have a big impact on how your gut feels and acts. To ensure that my gut stays in shape I take my daily dose of Bio-K+ Regular capsules. With 25 billion probiotic bacteria and an entero-soluble coating that ensures those little bacteria actually get to your gut to do their thing, it’s my go-to to feel my best no matter what is happening.
Remove the Temptation
After the splurge, get rid of the temptation. I know the turkey dressing is just so delicious, but if it’s still in your house, you’re probably going to keep eating it. Send guests home with care packages of food, so the leftovers aren’t calling to you from the fridge. As I always say, removing access to less-than-healthy foods is the first step to healthy eating!
Book Your Activity Time
If you have been indulging too much, you may feel tired and sluggish, but this is the time to move your body. Being active helps you feel healthier and makes you want to eat better, too. It breaks you out of the indulgence rut and puts you physically and emotionally, on the right track again.
If you know you push off workouts, try scheduling some in advance, so you’ll have that time protected and increase your likelihood of staying committed.
Andréanne Martin, Nutritionist-Dietitian, Development Manager at Nutrisimple
Listen to Your Body
How is your body feeling? Are you really hungry, or are you just craving sugar or more greasy food? By tuning into your body’s signs of hunger and fullness, you may realize that you aren’t actually all that hungry. Usually after a few days of indulging we require fewer calories in the following days. When you do sit down to a meal, eat slowly, and try to leave 1-2 mouthfuls on your plate.
Start Your Day Right
Start your day with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast that combines nuts, whole grains, and fruits. From protein-rich smoothies to whole-grain toast with nut butter and berries, the important thing is to use the nutrients in real, whole foods to refuel your body and get your gut back on track.
Dr. Denis Roy, a microbiologist, and researcher at the University of Laval has reported that 35% of our gut bacteria (aka our microbiota), is regulated by the food we eat. The more fiber and phytonutrients (plant chemicals found in fruits and veggies) you eat, the more you help foster your ‘good’ strains of bacteria that help get your gut feeling back to normal.
A well-hydrated body works at its full potential, allowing cells to do their job well and remove waste quickly. Aim for 1-2 liter(s) of water per day. If you are feeling bored of plain water, try adding in slices of lemon, cucumber or mint, or brew up a big pot of herbal tea.