Christmas lunch is the kind of lunch where we all end up unbuttoning our pants and feeling very heavy and bloated and that is perfectly fine when it happens once a year. But over December we have so many events we tend to overdo it one too many times and often end up bloated or suffering from heartburn.
Is your stomach more distended than Santa’s? If the answer is “Yes”, you are not alone. Most people end up feeling bloated and unhappy about how they are feeling overall
According to the studies, the average person eats approximately 7,000 calories on Christmas Day and over 15.000 calories per weekend with all the parties– so is it any wonder that sales of over-the-counter indigestion remedies double in the week before?
Christmas foods are usually quite fatty and oily. That means that digestion will generally take longer as fatty food they spend a long time in the stomach. Having all that food in the intestinal tract will produce a bigger than a normal feast for the bacteria in the gut which results in excess gas. On top of that many people drink large quantities of alcohol which can inflame the stomach as well. All of these can lead to bloating and a feeling of heaviness.
So if your insides feel as if they have been stuffed fuller than Santa’s sack, what can you do about it? Here I suggest a few ways of beating the holiday bloat.
Try starting the day with a cup of hot water and a slice of lemon. Hot water helps to stimulate the digestive process after lots of food there will be a lot of waste stuck in the colon which can make you feel very heavy and bloated and warm water will help to dilute the waste and push it through the system.
Tea and coffee though will only make the problem worse as diuretic substances can increase bloating as they encourage the cells of the body to hang on to any available water. Coffee can also contribute to the production of wind and can irritate the oesophagus.
Stretching will massage the colon and stimulate the nerves to the bowel while giving the whole abdomen a good squeeze, which can help get rid of that blocked up feeling, and that overall bloat.
Lie comfortably on your back with your arms on the side. Gently hug your knees to your chest and let them rock over to one side until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Eating small quantities regularly will help reduce bloating and tenderness whereas starving yourself can make your symptoms worse.
After Christmas Day’s excess, many people might have a mild form of gastritis – an inflamed, tender tummy. They may also feel bloated because of the quantities of food eaten.
Eating will help for a number of reasons. Firstly it will help shunt everything along through the digestive tract which helps get rid of that bulky feeling. Also, the stomach is continually producing gastric acid and without food, the acid levels rise which can lead to indigestion. Eating helps mop some of that acid.
Another reason eating is so good is that after the Christmas excesses of rich food and alcohol the lining of the digestive tract might be slightly inflamed. Eating helps kick-start the repair process in the digestive tract wall which will help ease any inflammation and so relieve tenderness.
Avoid a big blow out and try having three or four light snacks throughout the day.
Eat food that makes you feel good. Sit down and take note of what leaves your body feeling nourished.
Gentle exercise improves the metabolic rate and helps move waste matter through the gut. Do not do anything too strenuous as this will take blood and energy away from the digestive system and have the opposite effect.
For wind try charcoal tablets available over the counter. Speak to your pharmacist about any interactions.
There are several antacids on the market. Chewable tablets that can be taken after meals.
If you are suffering from belching or heartburn then Gaviscon advance is good. It coats the gullet and forms a film on top of the food in the stomach to prevent it from travelling up the gullet.
Milk of Magnesia coats the stomach lining and reduces stomach acid so is good for a painful, irritated stomach.
Probiotics will also help digestion I personally love Optibac or Fermentflor. They may also help as they help improve the number of friendly bacteria in the gut that are needed for an efficient digestive system
I would also recommend chamomile tea as this helps soothe the stomach.
Most people will take in far more sugar than they need during the festive period due to lots of food and alcohol. The body will store this excess as fat or glycogen which can make you feel sluggish and uncomfortable. You need to encourage the body to burn it off – so try eating a diet low in carbohydrates for a couple of days. It is better to have some carbs than none at all – so limit your carbs to one meal a day rather than having them with all three meals.
* Eat regular light meals and stick to lower fat foods as these are easier to digest.
* A breakfast of porridge or poached eggs on toast will help produce a steady release of energy so will keep you going until lunchtime. It will also be gentle on the stomach.
* Smoothies made from bananas or pineapples – which are thought to aid digestion – are a good choice.
Once the holiday season is over people tend to do loads of new years resolutions on going on a diet. This generally leads to restrictive diets that you keep doing for one to two months maximum. This is not the way to go. Developing long-lasting healthy habits can help you fix your relationship with food long term. Get in touch for my 1:1 coaching or hold on tight for my 30-day challenge starting 27th January