Everybody knows this one. That nasty burning feeling in your throat after you unwisely devour just one more helping of Grandma Betty’s double layer praline pumpkin chiffon pie. Indigestion is what most people know as heartburn. Burping, bloating and excess gas are all typical and socially challenging symptoms of common indigestion. And the holidays are challenging enough.
Don’t think you have to avoid the festive gatherings of friends and family. Simply eat early, eat less, and stay away from foods that are the culprits of your discomfort. A fiber-rich diet that includes soluble and insoluble fibers like vegetables, legumes and whole grains is a mainstay for subduing holiday overeating.
Including high fiber foods, not only during your holiday meals but in your everyday menus, is your strongest bet for conquering digestive ills and maintaining good health. Fiber not only reduces your risk for certain diseases and conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer, but your body is better able to detoxify all that you dump into it. There is less stress on your immune system.
Fiber’s greatest (and longest, if you are measuring your colon) benefit is assisting your 30-foot digestive system in improving its speed and efficiency. By speeding up the digestive process, constipation becomes a word less uttered. Naturally, sticking to a high fiber diet has many more substantial health benefits.
For starters, high fiber foods soak up fats. You eliminate most fiber without it being totally digested or absorbed into your bloodstream. That means no calories. Your high fiber meal soaks up water like a sponge and gives you that “full” feeling. While your intestines roll merrily along, the soluble fiber is truly curbing your appetite as your stomach slows down its emptying time. Your digestive system has more needed time to absorb the good nutrients from the fiber-rich food you just ate.
Fiber also binds with some carbohydrates to slow down their rate of absorption and digestion. If you suffer much from mood and energy swings, a high fiber diet around the holidays will keep your blood sugar level more balanced. This might just help you tolerate listening to Uncle Harry’s fishing stories again this season.
The continuous debate and analysis about nutritional guidelines rings clearly like Santa’s sleigh bells all year long. But there remains one very important factor that everyone knows to be crucial to overall health. Fiber. We need to include more high fiber foods on our plate.
Try to monitor how much you stuff into your mouth this holiday season. The only thing that should be stuffed is the stocking hanging from the mantelpiece.
Stephanie Shank (a.k.a. Fiberlady) has studied good nutrition since her days of mothering began 15 years ago which prompted her commitment to a high fiber lifestyle and the development of her informative website High Fiber Health.