Avoiding the Christmas ‘bloat’!

Set up christmas tableAs Feeling Fab contributor and Food and Nutrition expert Anu Paavola prepares for a Finnish Christmas, she share 6 tips to avoid the ‘uncomfortable and bloated’ feeling during Christmas.

The preparations for Christmas starts early. So many things to do and organise before closing down the business and getting together with friends and family! What to give, who to give, greeting cards, travel arrangements and many other issues are occupying our minds already weeks ahead of the good old Christmas Eve.

For me the thing that epitomises this period is the Christmas dinner. Where I live it starts to happen from Christmas Eve! The planning that goes into this event is staggering. I come from a large family and between us children everyone wants to contribute with something new every year. My mum always cooks the meat and gravy but we are allowed to prepare something new and exciting, maybe a new recipe we have tried during the year and want to share it with family. We have many vegetarians in the family, in fact, all of our family prefer vegetarian food but we have our own tradition of having reindeer (poor thing) in the table. Usually the Finnish main dish would be pork but we aren’t such a traditional family anyway.

The preparations start already a day ahead. In fact, we spend most of our time in the kitchen with the whole family cooking, tasting, drinking Glögi (Scandinavian mulled wine) and creating an atmosphere around the food which eventually brings us all together at the table. What is amazing is how quick the dinner is always finished! The days and hours of preparation are forgotten and the food that would deserve a long slow tasting process, with hours at the table disappears like dust in the wind.

My mum says we eat fast at Christmas because it is a habit. When we were children, all we wanted to do is get the presents open; this ceremony happened right after the meal. We children obviously had the worst ants our the pants during the meal. On top, we didn’t particularly appreciate or enjoy the Christmas food and my parents thought it was best to get it over with fast as possible in order to avoid whining and dining.

Now that we simply love the food at the table and would like to stay longer we have another generation of children at the other end of the table and, it comes as no surprise, that they are burning to get Santa in and presents open.

So what can we do?

It is hard to change your habits but here are a few simple pieces of advice if you end up like us, feeling uncomfortably full for the rest of the evening and suffering from digestive problems for the rest of the holiday.

  • Try to eat only at meal time i.e. fast between meals. Snacking nuts and chocolate throughout the day won’t leave your stomach rest which it needs for good digestive power
  • Drink hot water in sips throughout the days. Especially avoid drinking large glasses of cold water as it dilutes your digestive enzymes and slows down digestion considerably
  • Chew properly. There is nothing worse for digesting your carbs than wolfing food down. Saliva is the most important factor in the carbohydrate digestion. If you haven’t mixed it in your food, you’ll easily suffer from bloating and gas
  • Do not overeat. Not chewing properly and overeating  often go hand in hand. If you chew well you satisfy your senses better and you do not feel like eating as much as you would. Overeating is most often the result of not having enjoyed the food properly to satisfy the taste buds long enough in the mouth
  • Do not wash your food down with drinks of any kind. You can take a sip between mouthfuls but never with food in your mouth because then you won’t be mixing saliva in
  • Prepare a clove tea for the next morning. Add 5 cloves in a tea mug, pour boiling water over and leave overnight. Drink first thing in the morning after you’ve strained the cloves away. This helps the bowel to move

Wishing you the very best Christmas time!

Anu-Paavola-150x150Anu Paavola is a Ayurvedic expert and owner of Jivita Ayurveda. She is a qualified ayurvedic practitioner (B.SC Hons, MAPA) and a yoga teacher. Find out more