The holidays are a time of enjoyment for all the senses, as there is an array of sights, sounds, and smells that accompany family dinners, winter breezes, and twinkling lights. From the end of Halloween until New Years Day, there are more than enough opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry. For those who have little self-control and enjoy the occasion to pig out all season long, the obvious results of the holiday binge will include a sour stomach, food hangovers, and unwanted extra weight. It is estimated that the average American will gain between one to ten pounds of the course of holidays. If this doesn’t cause your stomach to turn, it should.
A Holiday Health Crisis
The United States is infamously known around the world for its obesity rates, with 38% of the citizen large enough to be classified as obese and 33% more considered overweight. Gaining just one tiny pound over the course of a year can create health problems, so the fact that many gains that in one or two months is alarming. It can be extremely difficult to maintain a weight loss program throughout the course of the holiday, like the HCG diet or the Keto diet, but not sticking to your routine and allowing yourself to slip is hard on your body. Heartburn is one of the more easily noticed side effects of overeating or abandoning a strict or monitored intake. The stomach is supposed to secrete enough hydrochloric acid to start the digestive process. This acid kills the potential food in your digestive system, so the more food you consume, the more acid is produced. The higher levels sometimes overtake a portion of the esophagus, leading to the feelings and condition of heartburn.
Your digestive process has to work much hard when you eat a big meal, but the progress is slow going. The heavy and bloated feeling you have after eating too much is the food waiting around to be digested. Your body tries to send reinforcements to help digest the food, and it does so through a greater flow of blood to the gastrointestinal tract. The body reroutes the blood, leaving less available to transport the necessary oxygen and nutrients to other areas of the body, but especially the brain. This is why so many people tired, lightheaded, or sluggish after a big meal. If you also consumed a lot of food made of sugar or carbohydrates, your blood sugar can also spike. The natural body response is to produce and release more insulin, giving you an energy spike. While this can help you power through the dishes or the aftermath of a meal, you will usually experience a crash within a few hours.
Coping With a Holiday Hangover
The holiday hangover isn’t just a problem with consuming too many party punches or glasses of wine. A food hangover is all of the above overeating symptoms and the overall feelings of blah as you try to wrestle up the willpower or energy to start packing the Christmas decorations up. Food hangovers can come from overindulging in foods that are too sugary, too fatty, overly spicy, or salty, which your body is not used to processing. As it is hard for the body to try and cope, your overall condition tends to mimic that of a drunken hangover. You will not be able to sleep well, probably tossing and turning throughout the night trying to get comfortable. You may develop some brain fog, a headache, or fatigue. Some people call it a food coma, and with good reason.
Avoiding the Holiday Headaches
Those who have never struggled with their weight or eating habits are quick to judge and throw out the old “just say no” strategy. However, restricting or trying to limit what is consumed has a more damaging emotional effect than a positive physical one. Many who try to just walk away or snub the snacks feel more anxious, isolated, and deprived. Rather than battling these negative emotions which could only serve to make cravings or desire worse, you should practice mindfulness. Savor the food you eat, but do so in moderation. Cut the slice of pie smaller or leave off the whipped cream. If you immerse yourself in the experience, you are more apt to enjoy the moment and the food that is present. Always pay attention to what you are doing, whether it is pouring yourself a drink or scooping a helping of mashed potatoes. Don’t overdo it, but don’t feel guilty if you take one cookie too many. Establish a plan for making better choices the next time.
You don’t have to deny yourself a good time during the holidays and the bounty that is sure to be around. Simply take care of the choices that you may be presented with, and you will keep your body and mind in great shape.
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