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Healthy Living

How to Let Your Stomach (and Your Stress) Ruin the Holidays

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 12/20/2011
Last Updated: 08/02/2012

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We're smack dab in the middle of the holiday crazies, and I can guarantee that many out there are—or will be—paying for it in the form of cash, credit card … and stomach woes.

Though I may not be able to dispense financial advice, I can send a hefty dose of health information your way instead. So you can join the rest of the crowd and not feel left out from their collective suffering, here are some surefire ways to ruin your holidays, compliments of your stomach and your stress:

  1. When you're traveling or away from home, shun the bathroom. I know—you're only comfortable "going" on your own throne. Keep it that way and when the urge strikes, ignore it, deny it—exercise your superb and enviable willpower and restraint by holding it in. Snub public restrooms and strange toilets (leaving home without portable seat covers in your purse makes it even easier!). If you're traveling by plane, make sure to choose the window seat, so you have a built-in excuse not to get up to use the loo. Or, while on the road, bypass the gas stations and rest stops that famously play host to needy tummies everywhere.
  2. Skimp on fiber. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans: who needs them when you can instead eat foods that don't contribute to lowering your cholesterol, reducing your risk of colon cancer, preventing constipation and slowing digestion? Why stick out from the crowd who only gets half the recommended intake (20-35 grams) of fiber each day? Besides, skimping on fiber does have its advantages (see #1, above).
  3. Drink lots of alcohol. Hey, it's the holidays and you don't want to be known as Queen of the Party Poopers. No one wants to hear you whine that too much wine or alcohol upsets your stomach and makes you pay dearly the next day. Make sure you have a drink in your hands at all times—and the more fizz the better (think champagne and beer) will guarantee to keep your bloat at its best.
  4. Lie down on the couch or slouch on your favorite chair after a big meal. Why take a walk instead when there's something that comfy—and warm—beckoning? This way, you'll not only rediscover what it feels like to really relax, but you'll also get a good dose of heartburn, since, like you, the acid from your stomach won't be able to move very far. Just because everyone knows that increased physical activity helps with digestion doesn't mean you have to go along with such folklore.
  5. Eat all the foods you love, even if they don't love you. And make sure you eat lots of them. This way, the food can throw a wild party in your stomach and give you a good dose of acid reflux or nausea, bloating and gas. After all, things like eggnog and fruitcake, hot-buttered rum and plum pudding only come along once a year … so you might as well get your fill until next year. You can have flavored sparkling water and fruit salad any time you want; why ruin the holiday with such ordinary, pedestrian fare?
  6. Embrace your inner stress. Just because it sends your stomach into flip-flops, that pure adrenalin rush can't be beat. To give an added boost to your adrenalin, take advantage of some last-minute mall shopping, making sure you fight it out for the parking spot closest to the entrance. The crowds are way more fun and interesting than sitting at home and shopping online, and their stress is absolutely infectious! And about meditation, yoga or exercise—all things you've found to help control your stress? Scrap those until the rush is over. Who has that kind of time, anyway?
  7. If you're hosting a dinner, do not delegate or ask for help. It's your party, after all; why not be in total control of it? Don't ask your husband or kids to help with the cleanup when you can do it precisely the way you want (they never load the dishwasher the right way, anyway).
  8. Give up on sleep. Now is not the time to get a lot of sleep, especially since you're waiting until the last minute to do last-minute things like wrapping your gifts and planning your menu. Those precious hours after midnight, when the house is nice and quiet, can't be beat for getting things done. is way overrated, anyhow.
  9. Eat a fatty, heavy meal right before bedtime. At the end of a long day, you're not the only tired one—so is your . It just refuses to work as hard. It may even help with #7 (above), and make it easier to skimp on some shut-eye. 

More reading:

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Simple Food Swaps for Healthy Holiday Eating


Oo, this one hit close to home. Thanks for delivering a much-needed kick in the pants.

That is one scary list! THanks for pointing all of it out.

I'm with you on all of these except for #7 - having anyone but me work and clean in MY kitchen leads to beaucoup stress! I'm a little bit of a control freak in there, as you can well imagine.

Well, Casey, if I were YOUR guest, I'd just listen to you, and sit back (but not TOO far back) and relax...

I'm trying really hard to be good. Lots of homemade, healthy foods in the weeks leading up to holiday overload.

Homemade, healthy foods sound good to me!

Ha-ha. This made me laugh. Will try to stay stress free during the holiday.

Well, Alexandra, laughing is one way to help keep your stress in check!

Must stick this one on my refrigerator with a copy in my purse :-)

Why not, if it'll help you remember?

Great list and one that everyone should keep in plain view during the holidays.

When I read this I remember how important it is to go with the flow of life!

I needed this one today. I am noticing it's easier to eat more fruit with great produce available--clementines and pears, some of my favorites. Unfortunately there also seems to be plenty of goodies around too.

I like your reverse-psychology lists, especially at this time of year.

I'm guilty of all of these. Thanks for the reminder.

This is SO funny? And I didn't realize you'd been following me around during the holidays, documenting my every move! (or in the case of #1--not move).

What a great take on holiday stress! I had to chuckle at "don't delegate," "eat a heavy meal," etc., because we always hear the opposite, which of course, desensitizes us to it. Thanks for making me think about it in a different way.

You are so welcome, Ruth and NoPot. Consider it an early holiday gift :)

Helpful post Sheryl! Sure to help the many who get into their hurry up tense moments due to the Christmas rush!


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