What is the number one way to avoid holiday weight gain – without deprivation?
SLOW DOWN. The sympathetic nervous system which is in charge of this stress fighting response is also in charge of shutting down your digestive system. Regularly slowing down digestion in this way also slows down metabolism.
SLOW DOWN. Yes, I know you’ve heard it many times, stress is the precursor behind so many diseases – some would even say that it is the cause of all disease. But did you know that stress; even small amounts of chronic low level stress can stop digestion all-together, and in effect slow down your metabolism?
Here is how it works. In the moments of stress, heart rate speeds up, blood pressure increases, respiration quickens, hormones such as adrenalin are released and blood flow is routed away from the midsection and into the arms and legs – which allows you to run away. The sympathetic nervous system which is in charge of this stress fighting response is also in charge of shutting down your digestive system. It does not matter whether you are eating a plate of greens or a hamburger – the food will just sit in your stomach like a brick until minutes or hours later when the body kicks back into normal digestive functioning. Regularly slowing down digestion in this way also slows down metabolism.
Think of every time you’ve run out of the house with your breakfast in hand, or scarfed down your salad in front of your computer. Did you ever feel like the food just sat in your stomach or caused fatigue? We’ve all been there. The most poignant example in my life is one about pizza. I can easily enjoy a few slices of pizza with my friends in a relaxed restaurant on a Friday night and still have plenty of energy to party for a couple of hours after the meal. But when I eat a slice of pizza on the run, it seems to take more time and energy to completely digest my meal. Even at 4:00, I feel heavy and sleepy. Has this ever happened to you?
Burn more calories while you relax. I just met with a college student who had just returned from a semester abroad in Italy. Though she made no changes to her diet, she shed fifteen pounds on the trip. Her only explanation was “I was just happier there.” She had significantly reduced her mental and emotional stress.
Not only does stress prevent proper digestion, but it also increases cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is one of the hormones responsible for signaling the body to store fat and not build muscle.
So this holiday season take a few minutes to slow down and take deep breaths before any piece of food crosses your lips. Be aware of how quickly you are eating and take an extra five minutes at your meals. Chew your food and relish every morsel. Avoid the mental stress of guilt and shame that we all have around holiday treats. Allow your body to digest and relax and you just may get through the holiday season without having to loosen your pants.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder of Ideal Balance, Monica Shah is a holistic nutrition and life balance expert. She helps busy professionals find simple ways to eat better, exercise and find more balance in their lives. Often called “the irreverent nutritionist”, Monica’s approach to being healthy is simple, fun and long-lasting. To find out more and to sign up for her FREE initial consultation and FREE nutrition tips please visit www.idealbalanceinc.com.