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Holiday thoughts: Prepare to head to the dinner table

Jennifer Roe

The holidays are approaching and with that comes the season of food, celebration and yummy morsels everywhere! As good and comforting as it is to dive headfirst into a pile of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie, sometimes the aftermath is not always a pleasant one.

I am sure many of you have had this experience. The one where your eyes are popping out of your head and are telling your stomach that it is three times the size it really is. And before you know it, you’ve taken it too far. You are done. It is over. The food coma along with all of the discomfort that goes along with it, sets in.

I have found over the years that gorging myself to the point of no return really is not the best idea and that, as tempting as it is, my body will not be happy. I have also discovered that yes, there are certain things that I will allow myself to enjoy that are not normally on my menu but if I enjoy all of the things, there could be a price to pay.

I guess you can say I have become a seasoned holiday meal veteran. I am much more aware of what agrees with me and what does not and I do my best to plan a bit ahead and make a few adjustments. One of the biggest pieces for me during this season is to not only have fun, take time off, if possible, but to actually feel good throughout it. In order for that to happen, knowing how to make the celebrations and the post-dinner states more enjoyable, is key.

First, I make a point of moving my body. Research shows that movement before a meal and/or after a meal not only helps with blood sugar levels but aids your body in digestion and processing everything you have put in it, thus leaving you with more energy rather than the need to just hit the couch and zone. And, if you choose to then hit the couch and zone, you may just feel better about it.

Second, I will drink apple cider vinegar and water before ingesting a big meal, especially one that has lots of carbohydrates. Research has shown it can help prevent your blood glucose from spiking and it can also increase feelings of fullness, thus leading to eating less. On a side note, there are tons of benefits to apple cider vinegar but that is a discussion for another time.

Third, I will prepare some dishes that may not be all that “traditional” but are delicious, seasonal and healthier. I recently found a quinoa recipe on the internet that has butternut squash, pumpkin seeds and cranberries, accompanied by a homemade dressing and it is amazing. I also like to make sure that there is a salad with lots of beautiful greens; maybe add beets, goat cheese, walnuts and a homemade balsamic dressing. Yum! Rather than canned green beans, use fresh ones, and for the potatoes and stuffing, I beg of you, do not use the box. Believe me, there are better ways to fully enjoy your upcoming days of gluttony!

Fourth, I try to not out pace my Labrador while eating. I slow myself down and eat a bit more intentionally. When I do not hoover my food, I have found that I feel fuller when I have emptied my plate and it prevents me from going back for seconds, thirds, fourths and then having to be put on a cart and wheeled out of the room.

Please know I am not suggesting that you do not enjoy yourselves over this holiday season. I am a firm believer in allowing ourselves to indulge, to have fun and to be fully immersed in what we love. However, I have also found that true enjoyment can come even more when we feel good at the end of the day as well as the days to come.

Warmest wishes, always.

Jennifer Roe is a master level Red Hat Qigong practitioner, an integrative nutritional health and wellness coach, a facilitator of women’s circles, programs and more. For more information, visit www.thehealingroe.com.