10 Science Backed Ways to “Holiday Well”
We are all in for happy holidays, egg nog and all. But we don’t buy into the myth that the holidays should be a setback for your health or your goals.
In our perspective, health is the new indulgence. Feeling good in your body and having a wellspring of energy to live life on your terms is priceless, and frankly, you are worth it.
So go on, take it in and enjoy it all. Just keep your eyes on the prize.
Here are some of our favorite tips to help you “holiday well.”
Let Go Of Being Perfect
Intention is a powerful tool and can guide you through the toughest social occasions sans the guilt. Instead, intend to do your best and holiday with your best health in mind. However, set a situational plan that is realistic and still enjoyable. E.g. when at the holiday office lunch, choose to stand away from the dessert table and fill my plate first with salad and protein before indulging in any other foods.
Science Says: Researchers have discovered that when goal intentions are supported with specific action plans labeled implementation intentions, they have a better chance for success.1
Food Is Medicine
When you eat foods and ingredients that support and restore you and your microbiome, you can heal your body and mind with each delicious bite. So many essential nutrients can be found in whole foods. Choose foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help maintain balance in your body despite your favorite holiday treats.
Science Says: Foods rich in fiber feed your gut microbiome nutrients that enable them to create an essential short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate feeds your intestinal cells to help maintain their integrity, keeping toxins from leaking out into the rest of your body.2
Eat Well, Feel Well
Keep your goals top of mind, especially how you want to feel. If you don’t want to feel bloated after eating, remember that before you indulge in a bowl of sugary treats. Many microorganisms in the gut that respond favorably to sugar can promote even more cravings. If you do indulge, just make sure to pair it with a little extra protein to help buffer any additional cravings you may have!
Science Says: Sugar actually disrupts microbiome balance, decreasing the number of protective bacteria that support immunity and in favor of more harmful bacterial activities that are non-beneficial and could lead to increased inflammation.3
Crowd It Out
Before you engage in a festive day, make sure you have had a nourishing meal full of your favorite Superfoods and take your Precision Supplements and Biotics. Nothing wrong with pre-gaming your festivities with nutrient-rich foods. Not only do they provide the healthy nutrients you need, but they take up space in the stomach and lessen available room for less-nutritious party favors.
Science Says: Drinking water, eating protein, and getting enough sleep are all tools in your toolbelt for crowding out unwanted or overactive cravings for unhealthy foods.4
Skip the Bloat
Nearly 1 in 7 Americans complain of bloating after eating and feel completely helpless. But they don’t have to be. Keep up your normal exercise routine to ensure your metabolism is up and running, keep your salt levels light, and remember the power of moderation!
Science Says: Hydrate with a big glass of water if you’re experiencing bloating after a holiday meal. It may be counterintuitive, but water will assist your digestion in moving along smoothly, offsetting excess sodium and encouraging your body to let go of fluids.5
Stay Sober Curious
Minimize or avoid the consumption of alcohol. Your biology really doesn't love it, despite the buzz. There are many non-alcoholic alternative drinks & spirits to taste and experience. Try a Festive Cranberry-Orange Spritzer or Spiced Citrus Digestif.
Science Says: Alcohol can affect your gut microbiome composition, balance, intestinal permeability, and immunity (remember, nearly 70% of your immune system is located in your gut)!6
Clear Your Mind
Your mind is a powerful thing. It can transform any moment from stress to bliss. Before mealtimes, take three to five deep breaths to reset your physiology to express gratitude and presence of mind while you eat. Pair with a glass of water to cleanse your palate, prepare your experience, and hydrate before a rich meal.
Feed Your Senses
Chew your food slowly and savor the flavors, colors, and smells of your food. Put your fork or utensil down between bites and maintain nose breathing while you eat. Halfway through the meal, do a gut check and assess your level of hunger on a scale of 1-10. Eat to feel satisfied yet energized and comfortable, not Stuffed. Taking breaks during eating to engage, chat, and laugh with friends and family can also slow down the eating process and allow your brain to catch up with your filled stomach.
Science Says: Eating slowly can increase the number of hormones that signal fullness and allow those signals to reach the brain and communicate that you’re full.8
Find Your Buddy
Holiday food loses its appeal when compared to the richness of new memories with friends or family, especially if spent in new activities, games, or lively conversations. Having a partner can also help you maintain accountability and limit your indulgences to a more reasonable amount.
Science Says: Having a buddy that you move or exercise with, as well as partner up on eating healthy, ensures you a greater chance of success than going it alone.9
Be a Resource
Your healthy well-being is magnetic, and others will want to know the secret to your success. Don’t preach, but do stay open to share when asked exactly how you are navigating your choices and invite them to learn more–as desired. Sharing your experience can also help you maintain your focus and goals while bringing more room to the table for positive experiences.10
Science Says: Sharing positive experiences can increase the positive effects for you, even more so when you receive enthusiastic support from those you are sharing your experiences with.
1 Gollwitzer & Sheeran, (2006). [Study on goals and intentions]. Referenced in 2010 article from sciencedirect.com.
2 [Benefits and side effects of butyrate]. (n.d.). health.clevelandclinic.org.
3 Berman, R. (2022). [Sugar and its effects on the microbiome, immune function and metabolic conditions]. Medicalnewstoday.com.
4 Bjarnadottir, A. (2016). [Ways to help with food and sugar cravings]. healthline.com.
5 Lawler, M. (2022). [Help with bloating after a meal]. everydayhealth.com.
6 Bishehsari, F. et al. (2017). [Alcohol and it’s adverse effects on gut microbiome]. Alcohol Research Current Reviews. PubMed Central.
7 Gerritsen, R.J.S. (2018). [Respiratory vagal stimulation]. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. PubMed Central.
8 Spritzler, F. (2019). [Eating slowly and weight management]. healthline.com.
9 Bouchez, C. (2011). [Having a partner when attempting weight loss]. Nourish by webmd.com.
10 Lambert, N.M. et al. (2012). [Sharing positive experiences for boost in affect]. SAGE journals, journals. sagepub.com.