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Christmas Guts – How to survive the Ham, Lamb, Turkey, Prawns and Pavlova

The decorations have been in the stores for a month, or more, so we all know that Christmas is coming. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year even though all the advertising can make it seem like an excuse to overindulge.

For some it is just not Christmas unless you eat-until-you-slump-on-the-couch-barely-breathing-and-half-awake … which is affectionately called a Food Coma. But your gut will not thank you! A healthy digestive system is an essential part to good health but you can weaken and tire out your digestive system by always overeating at meals.

Be kind to your stomach. If you eat until you are completely full or even overfull, your stomach is overworked, unable to contract and unable to properly mix food with your digestive juices to begin breaking down nutrients. This slows down digestion tremendously so food sits in your stomach where it begins to ferment, creating sugars that pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria love to feed on. Soon the pathogenic bacteria overtake the beneficial bacteria and all sorts of problems begin. It may start as feeling uncomfortable with bloating, constipation or gas but eventually an unhealthy gut leads to more chronic health problems, loss of energy, poor mental ability and weight issues.

Start practicing the handy Body Ecology principle of 80/20 now to get you ready for the rounds of parties and family dinners. The principle is that you eat until your stomach is 80% full, leaving some room for your stomach to do its job. The principle also applies to what you put on your plate. Having 80% plant foods such as salads and vegetables and 20% protein or a grain or starchy food encourages better digestion.

It can be very difficult to eat healthy when you are eating many meals prepared by others. However you can still follow the 80/20 principle and avoid the stuffed and bloated feeling. So this could mean you put a portion of meat – 20% is the size and thickness of your palm – with lots of salads on your plate making up the other 80%.

Or you have 20% of starchy foods such as potato / pasta / bread / rice then 80% is made up vegetable based salads and not the starchy salads such potato, pasta or white rice salads. Your chief aim is to keep meats and starches from mixing in one meal as combined they tend to slow digestion down. The best thing about the 80/20 rule is that you don’t have to feel deprived of your favourite foods. It’s just the timing of their consumption that changes.

And dessert? Well it’s not always easy to avoid family pressure to have dessert so either hold off for an hour or so and give your stomach a head start on digestion, or take along a healthier dessert (see recipe).

Begin to practice the principle now before the parties really kick in and get used to what 80/20 looks like and feels in your gut. A little ‘warning’: for a while you are likely to feel hungry quicker than you are used to. That’s good! Your body is learning to digest your meal effectively. You still don’t need to eat until you are bursting at one meal, remember that you can eat again! There isn’t any rule that says you can’t have a snack in 2 hours if you get hungry. Just remember to stop eating once you’re not hungry. Learn to listen to what your body needs and you will learn how much your stomach can hold and how much you need to get through your day.

Here’s a yummy and very healthy dessert idea that will be very popular when you’re entertaining

Chia Dukkah Recipe (a delicious healthy dessert)


70g slivered almonds
40g hazelnuts
30g shredded coconut
20g sesame seeds
1tbsp Chia seeds
1tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger (optional)
drizzle of honey or maple syrup

Toast almonds and hazelnuts on a tray under the grill until lightly coloured. Add coconut, sesame seeds, chia and spices and toast for a little longer until mixture is golden and fragrant. Allow to cool and process in food processor until chopped well.

Serve with Greek style yoghurt and assorted fruits. Dip fruit into yoghurt before dipping into dukkah.

You can skip the toasting step- the nutty flavour will not be as strong but it is still very good.

(Recipe is from the Chia Company recipe leaflet for Chiatah)

About the Author – Ruth Fellowes

Ruth-Fellowes-NutritionalistRuth is a naturopathic Nutritionist, public speaker and Additive Alert presenter with advanced qualifications in Nutritional Medicine. Nutritional Medicine emphasizes that food is highly effective as medicine and that every individual has a unique interaction with food and nutrients. Quality supplements are also valuable as being a quick way to get someone out of a nutritional black hole and back on track to a beneficial diet. Ruth became interested in Nutrition when she was practicing as a Move to Learn instructor in Sydney to assist children with learning and behavioural difficulties. Nutritional intervention became quickly recognized as a key factor to help the child with difficulties and now this is an area of speciality for Ruth. Other areas of particular interest are food intolerances, stress and anxiety, fatigue and digestive disorders.

Consultations are currently held at Organic Feast, East Maitland 2323. You can contact Ruth on 0425 301 485.