The season of gluttony has arrived! The steady onslaught of office treats, holiday buffets, and that ever so tasty double peppermint mocha latte topped with whipped cream can easily knock down the wall of resistance for even the most health conscious eater. If you are like most, by the time the holidays are over, you have noticed a few extra pounds on the scale. You think, “No worries, I’ll just sign up for that amazing New Year’s discount at the gym and lose the weight!” While the focus is all too often placed on our waist line, we tend to forget about the toll taken on our digestive health. “The holidays can wreak havoc on the GI tract,” says Alexandra Grace, D.O., Board Certified Gastroenterologist with Physicians Regional Medical Group. “I see a large increase in indigestion, bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel complaints during this time.” In fact, studies show that a big shift in digestive health can happen incredibly fast—within days of what we eat.1
Let’s face it, digestion is a huge part of who we are. It affects our mood, energy, sleep, general wellbeing, and overall health. Why would anyone want to compromise any of that especially during a time when stress levels can peak? Just because it is the festive holidays, doesn’t mean you need to eat any food that comes your way and forget about your health. The good news is, there are ways to enjoy the holidays while keeping your waistline and digestive health in check. Michael Cohen M.D, Board Certified Gastroenterologist with Physicians Regional Medical Group suggests that accomplishing this may be more within reach than we think. “The holidays are a time when more people do their own cooking, so it is a great time for people to challenge themselves to make healthier versions of their favorite foods,” he says. “For example, look for recipes using lower fat and sugar content than the traditional version.” He adds that having an eating game plan is also important. “If desserts are your thing, then map out a strategy to minimize the front end of the meal.”
Dr. Grace recognizes that portion control is a big factor that lends to keeping digestive health in line. She suggests eating smaller, frequent meals that will allow the body to process and digest the food without the discomfort.” It’s tempting to eat that large holiday meal but you always feel it after,” she cautions. She adds the following tips:
1) Limit the cocktails to 1-2 servings of alcohol
2) Schedule meals earlier and avoid fried or
3) Add some fruits and veggies to each meal to
ensure you’re getting the fiber you need
4) Chew your food well and eat slowly
5) Drink plenty of water with each meal
The holidays can be a challenging time to be mindful of the foods you are fueling your body with but with a few tweaks and simple rules to follow, you can be on the road to better digestive health for the whole year.
Michael Cohen, M.D.
Board Certified Gastroenterologist
Dr. Cohen’s office is located at Physicians Regional – Pine Ridge, 6101 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples, Physicians Regional – Bonita Springs, 24231 Walden Center Dr., Bonita Springs, and Physicians Regional – Pebblebrooke Center, 15215 Collier Blvd, Naples. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (239) 348-4221, or schedule online at PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.
Alexandra Grace, D.O.
Board Certified Gastroenterologist
Dr. Grace’s offices are located in Naples at Physicians Regional – Collier Blvd, 8340 Collier Blvd, and Physicians Regional – Pine Ridge, 6101 Pine Ridge Rd. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 239-348-4221, or schedule online at www.PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.