by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
If you had, don’t think you are alone. I ask this question because personally I ate too much and drank too much throughout the holiday season. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the parties, friends, family and all the fun. Before we know it we either simply just ate too much or maybe like me, not only a bit of eating too much but also eating some foods that may be challenging to you. For me, I ate much more dairy and grains than I typically would and I can feel it. On top of that I had a few more drinks than I typically would, which ultimately creates deeper issues with food sensitivity.
Most do not know that when you consume a food that you are sensitive too along with alcohol, this will increase your reaction about ten fold. Yikes!
So what does this lead to?
Funny but it leads exactly to what I am feeling right now.
This will often leave to a host of symptom challenges as listed below.
- Bloated stomach
- Weight gain
- Poor mental clarity
- Joint pain
- Body aches
- Unstable moods
- Poor sleep
- The dreaded not fitting into our clothes
After looking at the list of symptoms, we may ask ourselves why we chose to do this to ourselves. The reality though is that we are still living our lives and living them in community and this can make it difficult to maintain our nutritional and health commitments at times. For me the holidays are a time to let loose a bit.
So if you are like me and realize that you made some choices that are less than optimal for you, what do you do from here?
That is the real question. It is much easier to maintain healthy choices when we feel good and we are already in quality health habits but this can be more difficult when we feel badly due to poor choices.
The first and often the most important choice to make is to not beat yourself up for your choices. You cannot go back in the past and change it, so you may as well recognize that you had some “in the moment” enjoyment with your choices and move on. You may be suffering with some of the symptoms mentioned above, as I am, but you can simply use this as a tool for learning and potentially make a new choice next time.
If you beat yourself up and are riddled with guilt due to your choices, this will often leave you in emotional distress that would most likely lead to further poor choices and I trust that most of us have done this to ourselves in the past. You make a poor choice, beat yourself up, feel bad about yourself emotionally which most often will lead to more poor food or alcohol choices as a means to feel better in the moment. As we know, this simply continues this ugly cycle for ourselves which ultimately leads to further inflammatory issues and the symptoms that follow.
Once you have accepted your choices and taken responsibility for this, you can create positive change for yourself because acceptance and responsibility puts you in a power position. From this position, you can make new choices to move forward with much greater ease.
From here there are some definite steps to take to create relief from your symptoms, inflammation and ultimately your past choices.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Minimally consume one quart of water for every 50 pounds of body weight daily. This is so important because the alcohol consumption tends to leave us dehydrated and the increased water intake will also help the kidneys flush toxins.
- Work on a some gut repair and oxidative stress. You can do this will relative ease with the use of two inexpensive supplements referred to as L-glutamine and vitamin C. The L-glutamine is a know gut restorative supplement to assist you body in healing any damage to the gut lining. Vitamin C is still a great antioxidant to use when your body is challenged with oxidative stress and free radical activity. Personally I am taking one teaspoon of both these supplement three times daily to help my body overcome my choices.
- It’s also time to reset your choices. I know you may be thinking that New Years Eve is still coming up, but this does not mean that you cannot establish some repair in the next few days. Always make your best effort to not consume alcohol for three days after you drank in any excess. We’ll define this as two drinks or more. The reason I mention taking three days off from drinking is because that is the time frame that our bodies need to recover from alcohol consumption in any excess.
- Reset your food choices. It is usually a good idea to kick up your vegetable consumption after some poor choices since vegetables will often create a detoxifying affect on the body. If you want to take this a step further, you can do some juicing and push the detoxification just a bit more aggressively. I am not a fan on veggies or juicing only for most though. Get in some high quality proteins and fat also as your nourishing foods to balance out the detoxification. Many people are simply too toxic or not healthy enough to be overly aggressive with detoxification.
- Make sure you are moving your colon. It is optimal to achieve 2 or more healthy bowel movements daily. If you are only having one, you are likely holding the residual of 6 meals in your colon all the time. If you have less than 1 bowel movement per day you could be holding the residual of 9, 12 or more meals at all times. Disgusting, right? If you are not achieving optimal bowel movements you may try adding more water, taking a probiotic and enzyme, moving your body or adding more fiber but if you try this and it does not work, this could be a deeper brain issue. Understand that motility of your colon is regulated by your brain, so this could be something to look into.
- Get out and sweat. Either get to the gym or your favorite facility and more you body and perspire. This is a great way to burn off some of that fat and also release toxins at the same time. If you want to optimize your fat burning, make sure that you do not eat within 3 hours of your workout. Three hours after your meal you will be in fat burning mode and you’ll be dipping into your fat stores for energy. It is also beneficial to get in an infrared sauna. While you will not enjoy the benefits of exercise here, you will still release some of those unwanted built up toxins.
- Stop eating common foods that many are sensitive to. Many people have issues with gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, rice and even other non-gluten grains. Stop these for 30 days and see how you feel. These are common foods that trigger inflammation, so you may be surprised in how this positively affects you.
Personally, I do not worry much about the bit of weight gain, inflammation and joint pain that I may suffer with for a short period around the holidays, but there is a reason for this. Every year staring in January I follow a very comprehensive program that not only gets to the core of weight gain and pain but addresses so many other inflammatory symptoms.
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