It's inevitable. We spend the holidays drinking, eating hefty meals, and sneaking sweet treats so come January we feel bloated and blah. I don't know about you, but I always feel hungrier in the winter. Perhaps as a tactic to combat the cold, I find myself eating heavier meals and more often- this just seems to add to the bloat. Since then I've started to watch what I eat and what I do to try and minimize the bloating, but don't worry, these tips and tricks won't have you missing out on delicious food. It's more about being conscious about what foods you decide to indulge in and what self-care you do to keep up your metabolism.
Controlling what I drink
Beverages are the secret culprit of a lot of empty calorie consumption. Most people know that soda is a glass full of empty calories, but did you know that juice is loaded with a lot of sugar as well. While according to Science Daily some juice, like orange juice allows consumers to better absorb nutrients than from the raw, unprocessed fruit, it is still packed with sugar. I don't drink sodas or juice, so this adjustment was fairly easy to me.
The challenge for me was coffee. I'm a total addict and with coffee comes milk and sugar. After some years of being an avid coffee drinker, I realized that dairy makes me really bloated, so I swapped my usual low-fat milk with soy milk. After soy didn't fare well on my body, I tried a slew of other dairy alternatives and settled for coconut milk. It feels lighter than almond and soy milk. Even so, I limited my coffee to once a day and when I can, I stick to drinking it black.
Beyond coffee, I try to think of water as the only thing that will satisfy my need to get hydrated and everything else as a treat. I limit alcohol consumption to one or two nights a week and stick to a glass of red wine which has been proven to aid in one's metabolism.
Being choosy with complex carbs
I'm vegetarian so I consume A LOT of grains and complex carbs during the winter to give myself the calories I need, but these kinds of carbs are harder for my body to digest. That said, I've learned to be choosy in what complex carbs I intake.
Instead of pasta and white rice, I opt for black bean pasta and brown rice. According to Healthline, brown rice is a whole grain and includes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I love black bean pasta because of course it's main ingredient: black beans. Black beans have tons of nutrients and are a great source of protein and fiber. They're delicious and having them as a pasta leads to more variety in how you prepare them.
Other good choices for carbs are sweet potatoes and quinoa. Though high in sugar, sweet potatoes are a great, hearty addition to your meal. I usually eat them when I'm craving dessert to satisfy my sweet tooth. Quinoa is an amazing superfood that boasts a lot of fiber and protein much like black beans. Essentially, I've learned that knowledge is power with nutrition. I've started to only eat things that contribute to my health rather than just satiate my appetite.
Cutting back on sodium and sugar
Again, everyone knows sugar and sodium do not make you feel good. Cutting back on both can be easy if you take some time to educate yourself about tasty alternatives. (talk about tumeric, ginger, herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley and dill, adding celery, etc --- unclear on what the alts to sugar are. )In cutting back on sodium and sugar, I've learned that you have to season your food somehow or you go crazy and relapse on your cravings. As a result, I've researched other things I can use to spice up my meals. I landed on turmeric, cardamom, and curry. I first learned of these when speaking to a man at an Indian restaurant chain in NYC. He wrote down a list of spices he used for me and told me they are very good for me. According to Healthline, turmeric has endless benefits. It's an anti-inflammatory which is perfect to combat the bloating. Green cardamom is an excellent digestive thanks to its fiber content and it's spicy sweet flavor will make your meal extra delicious.
Baths yield endless benefits. I find it a great time to unwind and clear my mind. I make the time for a nightly bath because beyond all of the obvious benefits, it's been found that baths actually burn calories. According to Business Insider a bath can burn as many calories as a 30 min walk which is about 130 calories.
In addition, I find that bathing helps me to detox and sweat out toxins and the warm water helps to relax my stomach and promote digestion. I normally add essential oils and coconut oil to make the experience extra special. Plus your skin will absorb the oils and stay hydrated.