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How to Beat Holiday Bloat

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Dr. Shelly Sethi shares her tips for beating the holiday bloat that comes with holiday overeating.

By Shelby Woods, Headshot courtesy of Dr. Shelly Sethi 

The holidays are a time for bonding with family, decompressing from the stress of the year and, of course,
indulging in all the rich and lavish seasonal foods. During the holidays, we break out our best recipes in order to share a memorable meal with the people we love. Unfortunately, all those decadent treats that come with the holidays can lead to some serious bloating, overeating and weight gain. Dr. Shelly Sethi, a family physician and an expert in digestive health, offers up a few tips for how to avoid that gut-busting feeling that often comes with holiday eating.

PREPARATION IS KEY

Eating before attending holiday parties is a good way to prevent overindulgence. In order to feel fuller, Sethi suggests choosing foods that contain healthy fats and proteins.

“These foods will also prevent hormonal spikes in insulin and blood sugar that leave you feeling excessively hungry,” Sethi says, noting it’s also important to remember such holiday events should be focused on connecting with family and friends, and that the food, while tempting, is only one aspect of why we get together during the holiday season.

CONSUME FOOD AND BEVERAGES MINDFULLY

“When we eat while talking, we tend to eat more,” Sethi says.

And when we aren’t engaging with our food, it results in mindless eating. In order to become more mindful of our noshing habits, Sethi suggests putting the fork down on the plate in between bites.

“It almost becomes a thought process,” she says.

She also advises that those who want to avoid overeating should be cautious of excessive drinking. Alcohol is high in calories and disrupts sleep, which can lead to weight gain. Instead of indulging in all the holiday cocktails, Sethi recommends sipping sparkling water with lemon or lime in between alcoholic drinks to limit the total amount you end up consuming. Bonus: Drinking more water helps stave off the dehydration that often comes along with drinking alcoholic beverages.

AVOID THE SCARCITY MINDSET

Sethi says it’s important to remind yourself that even though the holidays occur but once a year, they will come again. Oftentimes, people will overindulge in holiday foods because they believe if they do not consume all their favorites now, they may lose that opportunity.

“If you are looking forward to a special recipe,” Sethi says, “you can tell yourself that you’ll do it again in the upcoming months.”

ALL IS NOT LOST IF YOU DO OVEREAT

If you do end up consuming a little too much, fear not. There are some actions you can take to prevent that bloated feeling that comes with overeating.

“The most important thing you can do,” Sethi says, “is to get your body back into a state of hormonal balance. The easiest way to achieve that balance is allowing the liver to rest for 13 hours or more.”

Sethi suggests intermittent fasting as the best way to rest. Avoid consuming anything other than water and herbal teas for the time you choose to fast. Fasting will put your body into a state of detox, allowing it to begin rebalancing some of the spikes in your blood sugar. After the fast, focus on clean eating for the next few days.

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