Avoiding the Holiday Binge


Years ago there was a popular commercial on television selling a well-known fizzy tablet designed to aid an over-acid stomach condition. Often there was portrayed an over-weight, middle-aged man in a tee shirt, scruffy faced and disheveled, lamenting over his exploit of over-eating. “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” was his sighing cry while his unsympathetic wife answered in a monotone “Believe it Harry.” It got a lot of laughs and was very effective advertising most likely because it was so relatable!

Over eating is a problem – and not always for the most obvious reason which is too many calories. The physiological effect on the body when we over eat is something to take heed of. Our digestive system is designed to process food into absorbable sized molecules so that the body can use these nutrients for energy, healing, restoration and balance. When we over eat we place such an enormous burden on this system that often many foods pass under processed from the stomach into the small intestine where all kinds of bad can happen!

Think of the small intestine as similar to that children’s toy that has several differently shaped pieces that must be matched up to the cut outs in a lid over a bucket. The child has to fit the shape to the cut out in order to solve the puzzle and fill the bucket. In a similar way – our food particles must be broken down to the right particle size in order to pass through the hair-like tubes that line the small intestine. Food particles of the right size will then be absorbed and utilized by the body. Food particles of the wrong size will stay in the intestine – fermenting and putrefying – causing bloating, gas and discomfort.

If this condition becomes chronic further dysfunction can occur including “leaky gut syndrome” where selectivity on what passes through is lost and the lining becomes “leaky.” This allows inappropriately sized proteins and fats to pass through which then overwhelm the immune system – which leads to more problems including allergies, impaired immune function and other imbalances.

There are a number of other physiological reasons for not over-eating including triggering over production of insulin, burdening the stomach (especially if your stomach acid is low – which is the more common condition with a high carb, western diet), and over eating non-enzymatic, processed foods. Any and all of these are causes for digestive upset and poor absorption of nutrients – leaving us over fed and under nourished!

To avoid this holiday eating pitfall and keep a very merry gut – here are some tips to keep in mind while sitting down to the dinner table (or lingering about the buffet table).

Relax, breathe and take it easy. Digestion happens in the parasympathetic state. There’s a reason we’d say “grace” before eating – it gave us time to get our bodies ready for food and our brains calmed down enough to allow digestion to take place.

Portion control. You really don’t have to “eat the whole thing.” Using smaller plates helps with this – no more super-sized dishware!

Chew slowly and completely. You should try to chew each bit at least 20 times. Try it – it’s not so easy and you’ll realize how little you actually chew if you start counting! It’s a great awareness exercise.

Make sure you have enough stomach acid. If you’re burping and uncomfortable after eating it may be that you are not producing sufficient stomach acid. If this is a common condition for you then it is important to address this with your health practitioner.

If you feel that your digestion is not quite right – or you are experiencing any issues with some of the condition listed above – we invite you to come into the clinic to discuss the proper protocol to help you regain your digestive balance.

Call us for a free consult or come on in and talk with your doctor – a happy gut is the key to wellness!


7 Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays

It’s that time of year again for family gatherings, festivities and feasting beyond measure!  These days can bring joy or trepidation, depending on how well you prepare.  For many who suffer from food allergies, addictions or are prone to stress, this time of year can be especially trying.  Read on to learn our top 7 ideas for navigating through holiday pitfalls and temptations!

1.Visualize success. Stressed out about the family reunion? The temptation of Aunt Louise’s caramel-apple pie?  The idea of 4 days of football?  Relax – make a plan – rehearse!  Coaches and athletes commonly use visualization techniques and rehearsal to improve performance, and so can you.  Try to picture the scenario that creates the most stress for you while facing the holidays.  You might even take out a notebook and write out – in detail – your expectations of the event.  Describe the location; the people who will be present, the antagonist (can be a person, a food or even a potential situation).

Now practice.  Visualize your responses and be honest with yourself on your weakness.  Acknowledge the various outcomes and choose the one that you want to see happen.  Keep practicing in your mind how you can contribute to the best possible outcome for your own happiness and enjoyment.  Practice, practice, practice.


2.Choose an indulgence – just one – and stick to it! Then really enjoy yourself.  If it’s a piece of pie then savor every morsel.  If it’s the creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes you crave – dig in.  Just make sure that you decide there will be no guilt attached.  The caveat to this is not indulge in anything that is harmful to you in the sense of a food allergy or an addiction.

3.Keep moving! The holidays do not have to mean a holiday from your normal routine.  Even if you’re traveling you can often find a way to get some exercise into your day.  Check out the local gym – most will allow you a guest pass, or go for a run – all you need are the shoes! Take a walk in the autumn air, do a morning dance… whatever feels right.  Just move it.

4.Prepare for the evening out. On your way to a party eat an apple to stave off hunger and the possibility of grazing too long at the buffet table.  Drink plenty of water – hydration not only keeps us from getting too tipsy but it helps us not to overeat as well!

5.Simplify. Preparing the family meal?  This is a great opportunity to take control of the over-indulgence by simplifying the menu.  Rather than knocking yourself out making a dozen different side dishes – which then contribute to over-eating – choose three favorites and make enough to go around.  This may be the year to let go of the candied yams and green bean bake, not to mention the jello tower!

6.Consider substitutions. Whipped sweet potatoes instead of russets, creamy pasture butter instead of margarine, light buckwheat flour or quinoa flour for your pie crust rather than white or wheat flour…  There are so many easy and tasty ways to make your meals healthier without compromising your taste buds!

7.Have a treatment. Try to remember – you are not alone.  The holidays can be tough on everyone with all the pressures of traveling, preparing, socializing and just plain dealing with it all.  Be kind to yourself and listen to your body.  If you need a break – take it.  Don’t forget to breathe.  And, if you’re feeling overwhelmed – call us and come on in for an acupuncture treatment or massage to ease the stress.


Image courtesy: CarbonNYC