Whether following old traditions or new, for most of us Christmas dinner is a focal point that allows us to take a moment to pause and enjoy some quality time with our loved ones.
Those extra roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and Christmas pudding may seem like a great idea until the festive food coma sets in and you’re bloated beyond belief.
That’s why Dr Elisabeth Philipps, nutritionist and neuroscientist from health and wellbeing brand, fourfive has shared some key tips to ease bloating and help with Christmas dinner digestion.
Dr Philipps says, “This one should be obvious but so many people forget to pace themselves when eating Christmas dinner. Since it’s such an exciting time that we’ve been anticipating for weeks, it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves and stack our plates. Slowing down is normally enough to ward off that all too familiar bloat.
Often when people eat fast they aren’t chewing their food for as long as they should, as it’s easier for your stomach to digest smaller pieces of food. Chewing for longer not only helps with digestion, it also reduces the likelihood of overeating, as your brain is given more time to feel full which results in less chance of a bloated stomach.”
“Why not swap out your hot chocolate by the fire with herbal tea? Many herbal teas have natural digestive aiding properties that will help boost digestion and relieve your stomach from bloating. Whilst teas like peppermint, ginger and chamomile all have slightly different benefits, all will help calm your stomach and improve digestion.
Peppermint tea is a great gastrointestinal stress relief, whereas ginger tea has anti-inflammatory properties and chamomile can have calming, therapeutic effects that may help induce physical and mental wellbeing. You could even add a cinnamon stick or two to your tea, they’re filled with antioxidants that offer an abundance of health benefits and would certainly elevate your festive game.”
Get some fresh air
“Low impact cardio, such as a medium distance walk can help aid digestion and ease bloating as this helps move food through your stomach quicker than if you were sitting. Moving your body can be beneficial as it may help ease any built-up gas in your digestive tract.
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas and it happens to come true, there are many fun ways to get active in the snow. Why not build a snowman, go on a wrapped up festive stroll or challenge your loved ones to a snowball fight?”
“I know on Christmas Day it can be easy to grab a selection box or a couple mince pies moments after Christmas pudding. But trust me! Your gut will thank you later if you give it a few hours. Four hours is the perfect amount of time for your stomach to empty. The quicker you snack, the more bloated you’re going to feel for longer, as you haven’t given your stomach enough time to digest.”
Improve your gut health
Take probiotics to improve your gut health, ideally after eating. The modern diet can often contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and alcohol – especially over the Christmas period – and through this good bacteria can be lost. Probiotics can contain billions of live CFU (Colony Forming Units), which are essentially friendly bacteria that are great for your general gut health.
Studies have shown that they can restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut and are able to support digestive balance, your immune system, inflammatory issues and can even play a role in improving your mood. Taking these regularly throughout the festive period is an assured way to optimise your digestive health and be one step ahead of bloating this Christmas.”
Don’t drink too much
“Avoid drinking too much liquid before eating as fluid can fill your stomach up and affect its acid activity. Drinking excessively before a meal can lead to indigestion, bloating and in extreme cases it can cause difficulty absorbing nutrients from foods.
Foods digest easier when your stomach’s acidity level is between 1 and 2 on the pH scale, over drinking liquids can slow down the digestion process which can result in becoming bloated easier than normal. Some nutritionists argue against drinking at all during a meal, although I suggest limiting your consumption of liquids, a small drink is fine.”