Our favorite holiday season is here and come January, I will hear a lot of digestive complaints from my patients. Humans developed a wonderful tradition of celebrating holidays with a culinary feast, which is really the main reason we love them, yet, due to our glutenous nature it presents some challenges - overeating is one of them. Another challenge that the holiday season presents for many is increased levels of stress which again leads to stress eating. Of course, stress eating extends beyond the holiday season, and deserves its own article. So, without further ado here are some suggestions on what you can do to minimize the setbacks of holidays feast.

Use Food Substitutes

Cook with less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening and other saturated fats. Instead use olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil or peanut oil. Greek yogurt and whole milk instead of heavy cream, evaporated cream is an easy lower-calorie alternative to milk and cashew cream is a good dairy-free substitute for heavy cream.

Focus on making more vegetable dishes - be creative - healthy can be tasty!

Increase Your Metabolism

Some herbs that can be used in cooking or taken as supplements are turmeric and cayenne pepper. Among many other functions, they increase your metabolism.

Manage Stress Eating

If stress eating is your issue, increase your exercise, which can decrease cortisol in your body. Incorporate Illuminate into your routine and take 3 times a day, it will help to relax you and improve your sleep, which in turn can decrease stress, anxiousness and the need to overeat.

Practice Good Eating Habits

- Don’t starve yourself to make room for the dinner, do the opposite- have some filling healthy snacks throughout the day, so you are not as ravenous by dinner time.
- Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol increases your appetite, your irritation with your loved ones and decreases your ability to control what you eat.
- Make a balanced plate - ½ vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ starch.
- Remember, your eyes are bigger than your stomach – eat slowly, chew your food and take a 10 minute break between servings. That is the time your brain needs to send you a signal whether you are full or not.

Using the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), here are some acupressure points to reduce your appetite:

1. Base of your neck, where your hairline meets your neck. Massaging it not only relieves stress and headaches, but it also curbs your appetite.

2. Point in the web, between your thumb and your index finger. Press to a point of discomfort and hold for 30 seconds. Take turns on each side. Pressing this point stimulates the intestinal function. It also works great for headaches.

3. Massage your temples or the area at the top of your nose, between your eyebrows, referred to often as your Third Eye. It relaxes your nervous system and increases the release of serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter that elevates your mood and helps suppress appetite.

4. Press the point near your ear just in front of your ear lobe, and open and close your jaw. It helps to control your appetite as well as relieving TMJ related pain.

You don’t have to deprive yourself or feel guilty while you eat, which will only decrease your digestive abilities. Instead, by practicing “defensive” eating and cooking, you can come out of the holiday season without making “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Harvard Health - Stress Eating : Five Strategies to Slow Down
Dr. Hoffman - Defensive Eating : Taming Your Addiction to Food