The festive holidays are upon us which generally means an array of food, lots of time with loved ones, listening to Christmas songs repeatedly, wearing sparkly clothing or Rudolph jumpers, and most of all feeling full on the holiday spirit.
Over Christmas it is all too common to mix and match many foods that you wouldn’t typically eat together which can leave you feeling stuffed, bloated, sluggish, puffed up, and potentially left with constipation or diarrhoea. This doesn’t sound like much fun does it? Instead of eating whatever and whenever and being left with the uncomfortable consequences, you can choose to feel energised, light and amazing over the festivities, whilst also avoiding the guilt of what you’ve been aimlessly chowing down on.
Digestion affects our mood, energy, sleep, general wellbeing and overall health. The well-known saying is true “you are what you eat” so if you want to feel full of zest then eat foods that will give you an abundance of energy. If you want to feel zapped of oomph then eat foods with no life to them. It really is simple and once that connection is made regarding the importance of food to our overall health, performance, and life, it will become much easier to just eat great food and feel amazing, no matter what time of year it is.
Just because it is the festive holidays it doesn’t mean you need to eat any old food and forget about your health. You can still eat delicious food that makes you feel good from the inside out…honestly! All it means is you need to learn to steer clear of certain foods displayed at family feasts and choose better foods that will help you rather than deplete you.
Some foods to avoid that will affect your digestion and leave you feeling bloated, sluggish and clogged up include: processed and heavily refined foods (i.e. shop bought biscuits, cakes and bread), dairy (including creamy sauces), oily fried foods, fatty foods, meat, too much alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks. You might be thinking, well what is there left to eat and enjoy?!? There are still LOTS of tasty foods to devour, all it takes is a little open-mindedness to preparing new dishes and trying other foods.
Here are some of the best foods to help digestion over the holidays (and the rest of the year) which taste good and make you feel great. All of them can be enjoyed throughout the day in a variety of creations, so enjoy every bite!
- Bananas – Bananas are a great source of vitamin B6, C, manganese, fibre and potassium. They are an excellent source of carbohydrates making them fantastic for energy and health. Due to the fibre and carbohydrate content they are great for digestion. Start the day with a fruity smoothie, enjoy bananas as a snack and add fresh sliced bananas to oats.
- Pineapple – Packed with vitamin C, manganese and fibre, pineapple is great for immunity and skin health. Plus, it contains the digestive enzyme bromelain, which is known to support digestion. Add chunks of fresh pineapple to smoothies, make a thick smoothie bowl with bananas and top with more pineapple, and add to big green salads for a zesty twist.
- Papaya – Rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium which helps to build strong immunity, healthy hair, bones and skin. In addition, papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain, which is great for aiding digestion. Enjoy a simple breakfast of papaya with sliced bananas, passion fruit and berries, and add to smoothies.
- Greens – Lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumber, rocket, watercress, pak choi, broccoli, kale and more! There are so many green vegetables to enjoy that there is so much variety to add to your meals. They are all packed with an impressive amount of nutrients, such as vitamin A, C, K, calcium, iron, fibre and folate. The fibre helps to keep digestion super healthy! Some are best raw, others are great steamed or stir fried. Add spinach to smoothies or salads, make big fresh salads with a mix of lettuce, spinach, rocket, cucumber and celery, or enjoy lightly steamed broccoli alongside rice and a vegetable curry.
- Rice – Rice offers many nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium and fibre, all of which will provide the body with energy and good digestion. Make a rice salad to take to gatherings, enjoy rice alongside a delicious hearty vegetable curry or stew that will provide comfort and warmth on the colder evenings.
- Potatoes – All types of potatoes (white, sweet, purple, any variety) are a great source of nutrition to provide the body with energy and a healthy gut. White potatoes have many nutrients such as vitamin B6, C, B3, potassium, manganese and fibre. All of the varieties are packed with fibre which will help to aid digestion. Make a potato salad with chopped avocado and greens, enjoy baked and steamed, and make homemade veggie stews and soups that are all perfect additions to the festive feasts.
- Avocado – You still want to eat and enjoy some healthy fats daily, and the avocado fruit is a perfect addition. Avocadoes are packed with fatty acids that help to support brain, heart and skin health. Plus, they are a good source of fibre which will help digestive health. Add chopped avocado to salads, topped on gluten free pasta dishes with a homemade tomato sauce and make guacamole for a delicious digestion friendly dip.
Bonus: Water! Not a food but it helps to feed the body with much needed hydration which helps to keep bloat away and keep your system running smoothly.
For more tips on supporting digestion, including food combining, check out Top Tips for Great Digestion.
Enjoy the festivities full of energy and a happy gut!