Lights, music, family, boughs of holly -- the holidays are known for many pleasant sights and sensations. Unfortunately, seasonal stress, odd schedules and overindulgence in rich foods can mean an upset stomach, heartburn and indigestion for some celebrants.
Take steps to make the holidays more pleasant on your stomach:
• Seek balance: Eating a balanced diet is a key factor in preventing indigestion, constipation and other digestive problems, but accomplishing this goal may be a bit trickier during the holiday party season.
Drink plenty of water, hit the veggie tray before the cheese tray, and be sure to incorporate fruit, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy into your other, less festive meals.
• Enjoy slowly: With so many terrific foods on the menu, why rush? Enjoy meals slowly. You'll be more likely to practice portion control this way. Additionally, digestion will be easier if you don't make your body process too much at once.
• Reduce stress: Stress can manifest itself through the digestive system in the form of heartburn. So avoid letting the holidays become an added source of stress. Carve out a few moments daily throughout the season to relax.
• Cook smart: Certain herbs are well known to aid digestion or settle an upset stomach. Counteract the effects of all those rich foods and drinks by incorporating basil, dill, mint, cilantro and ginger into holiday cooking.
• Listen to your body: Symptoms are usually an expression of the body's attempt to correct an imbalance. Instead of masking symptoms such as acid indigestion, upset stomach, nausea, heartburn or a hangover, try a homeopathic medicine that works with the body to alleviate discomfort.
For example, Boiron makes dissolvable pellets called Nux vomica for symptomatic relief. The sweet-tasting pellets melt in your mouth without water, and won't bother an already upset stomach. Be attentive to the body's signals and use it at the first sign of symptoms. For a natural indigestion remedy or natural hangover remedy, try it after too much coffee, alcohol, spicy or rich food, or when feeling drowsy after a big meal. More information can be found at www.BoironUSA.com.
• Kitchen cabinet remedies: Your kitchen cabinet contains an arsenal of remedies, say experts.
"Take two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar before eating to help with digestion. You can also try drinking a cup of organic herbal tea, such as chamomile, dandelion or burdock, with fresh lemon juice after meals to help with liver detox and promote relaxation," says celebrity chef and culinary nutritionist Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP.
More healthy eating tips from Valpone can be found at www.TheHealthyApple.com.
• Exercise: Regular exercise benefits a healthy digestive system, so get plenty of it. Just be sure to avoid anything strenuous directly after a heavy holiday meal, which can actually put digestion on hold by redirecting blood away from your digestive tract to support the heart and muscles, according to Harvard Medical School.
This holiday season, keep your body in balance with natural remedies to treat and reduce common digestive symptoms.