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This Holiday Season, Let Your Colon Be Your Guide

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Okay, it’s time to have a little chat with our bodies.  This is the precious moment before we cross that line on the horizon, that point of no return — otherwise known as the holidays.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the holidays and look forward to them each and every year.  BUT, we must be aware that endless opportunities for celebration and contagious festive spirits can all too often lure us into the land of oblivion. A land where sayings of “It’s the holidays!” and “You only live once!” can distract us from our logical, more health-conscious selves, thus setting us up for a horrific start to a new year where we promise ourselves to do better by our health.  And yes, I speak from experience.

            Thankfully, our bodies do come equipped with a warning system, if you will, letting us know what’s going on inside and whether or not we need to be doing things a little differently.  So, rather than waiting till January 1 to begin the road to better health, begin a daily habit, right now before the holiday season is in full swing, of checking our “outputs”.  That’s right.  We need to take a peek at what our body is producing – or not producing – and adjust accordingly.

            Questions to ask:

  1. Are you “going”? - Not “going”, medically known as constipation, is not fun and can be a sign of dehydration, lack of fiber, inactivity, poor sleep or stress.  To heed this warning sign, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.  Also, make an effort to eat some fiber, which can be a challenge during the sugary and refined-grain-filled holidays.  But, behind the stacks of cakes and piles of cookies, there’s usually an ignored veggie tray hiding out.  No, raw veggies may not be as tasty as the homemade sweets, but your colon will definitely appreciate the effort even if your taste buds don’t. 
  2. How often are you going?  There is no magic number, unfortunately, because all bodies and their systems are individually unique. The best question to ask is, are you regular?  If “regular” means once a day or three times a week, then that’s your “regular”.  If you become irregular during the holidays, it’s a sure sign that your diet has become irregular, too, which is a fair possibility during this time of year and one that’s pretty hard to avoid.  Some helpful tips:
    1. Don’t carry a plate of food at parties.  If visiting with friends, keep your hands free. If this bothers your host who insists on you eating food then find that hidden veggie tray and stock up.
    2. Imbibe gently.  Whether it’s wine, beer, cocktails, fruit punch or soda, trade off a glass of water in between beverages.  The extra water intake will fill you up, clean out your colon, and space out the extra calories.
    3. Try to eat regularly.  Our bodies love routines so try your best to eat regularly scheduled meals.  When we eat regularly, we tend to “go” regularly, too.
  3. What does it look like?  Yes, I’m sorry.  I am asking you to look at your poop. But it is for a good cause. The goal is to excrete “logs” or “snakes”, not pebbles or mush. Stools that resemble logs and snakes are signs of good colon health. Pebbles and mush means the poop either stayed too long in the colon, or not long enough. Also, if it’s any color other than light to dark brown every time you go, talk to your doctor.             

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