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Over indulgence in moderation

Nutrition and fitness advocate promotes healthy holiday cheer



You've been waiting a year for Christmas to come with its rum and eggnog, turkey and stuffing, honey-glazed ham with pineapple and mincemeat pie with vanilla ice cream.

Those who have been through the drill a few times know how things work over the holidays. Many of us start indulging on Dec. 24 and we go hard on food and drink while going light on sleep and exercise until Jan. 2. True over-indulgers get shocked back to the real world packing an extra five kilograms along with two new centimetres of waist.

Whistler author and wellness advocate Van Clayton Powell has some thoughts on how to come out of this holiday period feeling great, and it doesn't include a stern warning to eat garden salads and drink water through the holidays.

"Allow your self to party," he says.

But, he quickly adds that once the party is over it's important to let your body deal with what the party brought.

"Let Christmas dinner clear the stomach before you put more in," says Powell.

Like all health and fitness practitioners Powell, who authored the book You Are NOT What You Eat: Better Digestive Health in 7 Simple Steps, is a strong advocate of fitness. He says 30 minutes every day will do — even 30 minutes five days of the week works.

Through his knowledge of the digestive system he also recommends letting your body completely process the food it gets before shovelling more in.

"Every single cell in your body, every organ in your body, every system in your body relies on your digestive system to feed it."

Powell argues we stress out our digestive systems by over indulging too often and that has led to growing numbers of people with digestive issues due to weakened and damaged food-processing systems.

"What you really need to do is give it a rest," says Powell. "We need to stop eating all the time and that's a problem over the holidays — people just keep eating and eating and eating."

When that happens, he says, the digestive system gets injured.

"Don't party every day," Powell suggests. "Take a day off every now and then. That can make a huge difference for the digestive system."

Powell also has valuable recommendations for fluid intake at mealtimes.

"Fluids can interfere both mechanically and chemically with the digestive process," he says.

He suggests avoiding fluids 30 minutes before a meal, then drink half a cup of liquid at room temperature during a meal and then avoid fluids again until about 60 minutes after the meal.

After all his recommendations, suggestions, do's and don'ts Powell comes back to stressing that healthy and happy people should simply keep doing what has been working.

"If you've got problems, you've got symptoms of digestive problems... then you really need to watch anything that interferes with the digestive process," says Powell.

Happy (healthy) New Year!