How To Avoid Indigestion And Bloating At Christmas
Christmas indigestion - is it just greed?
"Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach."
Is is just greed that we end up with indigestion and bloating at Christmas? Not exactly! Sure, there are folks around who seem to be able to swallow mountains of food over the festive season and still have room for more. However, the reasons for gastric upsets can be because of:
- Eating richer food than we don't normally have - sugars, spices, sauces and rich sweets are just some examples.
- Social invitations - not only do we eat more food that is richer but there are certainly more invitations to parties that dish up these foods.
- Saying no - no one likes to be thought of as a 'party pooper'. Often we'll take food that is offered, even when we know we can't manage it, just to be sociable at Christmas.
The problem is that we can end up not just with acid indigestion but feeling sluggish, tired, bloated and down right miserable due to having just that bit too much. So what can we do to try to prevent these gastric problems?
Preventing Christmas indigestion
"I trust Christmas brings to you its traditional mix of good food and violent stomach cramps.”
Ebenezer Blackadder in
'Blackadder's Christmas Carol' (1988)
It's been estimated that on an average Christmas Day we consume nearly 6000 calories! Is it any wonder then that our gastric system protests by giving us indigestion, heartburn, bloating and any other number of discomforts - and embarrassments like wind?
In addition to the general discomfort eating too much can actually cause you to feel very fatigued and sluggish, creating a hangover effect. In extreme cases people not only feel nausea but can actually vomit. Diarrhoea is another nasty side effect of over doing it at Christmas.
Prevention is better than the cure
We all want to enjoy our Christmas and certainly this hub is not to spoil anyone's Christmas dinner or other goodies that are usually on offer. So here are some preventative measures for eating you can take to minimise the risk of overloading your gastric system:
- Digestion takes place better when people sit down. Not only is the stomach in a more relaxed posture but people tend to be more aware of the food they eat and take their time chewing.
- Not only take your time chewing but chew the food well. This not only prevents indigestion but helps to prevent bloating as well. Bloating is an excess of tiny gas bubbles needed to digest properly. Alcohol, fizzy drinks, beans, cauliflower and onions are a few of the main culprits. In addition, talking and drinking too much while eating also leads to bloating.
- After the meal stay sitting for at least 20 minutes to allow the digestion process to work on the food properly.
- A short walk after a meal is always great for avoiding bloating and indigestion. Not only that, you burn off a few calories in the process.
- If you are prone to having indigestion at Christmas time and other celebrations then there is a healthy drink that could help. Lemon juice taken before breakfast - or any meal - helps the stomach to not only clear out left over food debris but also removes excess acid. Fresh lemons are best, but bottled lemon juice can also be used. If using fresh lemon, squeeze the juice from one or two lemons and mix in with 250 to 300ml of water. Filtered or spring water is best and you can drink this cold or heated up. This drink is also great for overall health of the digestive system.
- Many people prefer to take their lemon juice in the morning before breakfast. However, before lunch they have a drink of apple cider vinegar. Try and use a good quality apple juice and pour out 200ml to 500ml into a glass. Then add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the apple juice and stir it in. Organic apple cider vinegar is thought to be the best but if this is not available then buying a store brand will also help digestion problems. This drink is great for balancing out the hydrochloric acid in the stomach so aiding the digestion of food.
- People who are prone to indigestion should avoid cold drinks while eating. Drinking liquid that is cold can slow down digestion making it sluggish. Warm drinks or herbal teas are thought to be better. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also a good way to reduce acid especially if you are prone to having excess acid while eating a large meal. However, it's Christmas so instead of giving up everything you enjoy use what tips you can to reduce the chances of an upset stomach.
- If you're prone to heartburn then avoid fizzy drinks that tend to stimulate acid and cause wind.
- Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to excess acid as well as nausea, so try and eat something light if you're having alcohol before a meal - snacks help to soak up the alcohol.
- Many alcoholic drinks are said to be good aperitifs, however, there is no proof that this is the case. Many drinks in fact can cause increased acid and bloat up the stomach.
- If you think you will be having a few drinks throughout the day, then try to have a high fibre breakfast that also contains some fat - porridge with whole milk or poached egg on wholegrain toast are good examples. These foods are not digested quickly and soak up acid due to the amount of time spent in the stomach. They are also good for preventing alcohol being absorbed into the blood stream too quickly.
- Pace yourself throughout the day. If you feel at any time you've taken too much, don't be afraid to say so and ask for a soft drink instead. Christmas is about having a good time, not getting drunk before you've even seen the turkey!
What Christmas food gives you the most gastric problems?
Cures for Christmas indigestion
"People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”
No matter how well we might try to eat as sensibly as possible there's always the chance that we'll end up with gastric problems either from food or alcohol - or both. You can of course buy plenty over the counter treatments. However, if you feel like taking something a bit more tasty and healthy there are natural remedies you can try:
- Eating low calorie and low fat foods. These foods tend to calm the gut down and make digestion of a meal later on in the day much easier. Baked potato with low fat fillings is one of the best to settle the digestive tract down. In addition non-creamy soups are also good for this purpose.
- Avoid things such as crisps, nuts and cakes until your system is back to normal. Try a little fruit instead. Some people may find that raw fruit is too heavy for a delicate system, so have a little cooked fruit instead.
- Things such as ginger - good for nausea - and chamomile tea can help to sooth an upset stomach as well as helping with digestive cramps. Some people also find peppermint good for this. These remedies also help with bloating.
- Other herbal teas that can help with digestive problems as well as bloating. Slippery elm bark is good for heartburn as well as indigestion. You can also try fennel or basil tea.
- Cinnamon - ground cinnamon can be made up with water and honey as a home remedy to help the digestive tract recover from excess food and drink. You simply add one tablespoon of the cinnamon to a cup of boiling water and add honey to improve the taste. You can also use crushed coriander seeds and make up a drink in the same way as the cinnamon.
- Pineapple juice not only tastes wonderful it's also very good for gastric upsets such as indigestion. It contains a substance called bromelaine which is believed to aid the digestive process. Pineapple juice can also be taken before meals as a preventative measure against indigestion.
- Papaya juice is an alternative to pineapple and is also good for indigestion.
Hopefully there will be enough remedies here to help you through the festive season. There's no reason why we can't enjoy the food and drink on offer - it's simply a case of pacing ourselves and listening when our stomachs tell us that it's had enough. Merry Christmas!