Nutritionist Jane McClenaghan offers her 5 easy tips on how to reduce Christmas bloating and how to keep your gut healthy over the holiday period.
Mince pies, Christmas turkey, brussel sprouts and cream on everything. There are some foods that make it feel like Christmas. We all like to indulge in our favorite festive foods, but if your digestive system ends up feeling bloated, windy and uncomfortable, there are a few tricks that can help you enjoy the Christmas treats without feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
1. Slow things down a little
It is a busy time of year and we can end up grabbing food on the go, rushing meals and not taking the time to sit down and eat at the table. All of this can play havoc with our digestion.
When it comes to good nutrition, how we eat is just as important as what we eat.
When we are in a hurry, our nervous system is in the fight-flight-or-freeze mode, otherwise known as ‘sympathetic dominant’. When we take time to sit down, and eat in a more relaxed way, we engage the ‘parasympathetic’ mode, (also known as rest-and-digest).
Simply put, when we are busy and a bit stressed, or eating on the go, our brain does not get a chance to tell our belly that food is on its way down there, so our digestive system is not engaged and it ends up only doing half a job.
So amidst the Christmas shopping and present wrapping, make sure you are taking the time to sit at a table and digest your food properly. Enjoy the food that is on your plate and eat a little slower to help prevent and reduce Christmas bloating.
2. Eat some bitter foods
Bitter foods have traditionally been used as digestive tonics, and research shows that certain bitter foods can be a useful addition to our modern diet to help manage symptoms of IBS, indigestion and bloating. Fennel and lemon balm may have particular benefits to help reduce Christmas bloating and these are available as really lovely herbal teas. Keep a pack of your choice on hand over the festive season and treat yourself to a cup to help support your digestion.
3. A daily dose of flaxseeds
At this time of year, one of my favourite Linwoods products is the apple and cinnamon blend. It is lovely added to your overnight oats or porridge for a taste of Christmas. Cinnamon is a seasonal warming spice, and has been used traditionally as a comforting digestive tonic to help with bloating, nausea and indigestion.
Keeping your fibre levels topped up, and your digestive system regular is easy with a daily dose of flaxseeds. Milled flaxseed may help reduce Christmas bloating, relieve constipation and abdominal pain. Get into the habit of adding flaxseeds to your breakfast, pop a spoonful into your yoghurt as a snack or sprinkle some Linwoods milled flaxseeds on top of your curry or bolognese at dinner time.
4. Know your triggers
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the brussel sprouts, but they may be one of the foods that are more likely to produce gas and leave you feeling windy or bloated.
Other gas-producing foods include:
- Brassica vegetables like brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli
- Beans and lentils
- Onions and garlic
- High sugar foods, and artificial sweeteners
- Fizzy drinks
- Dairy products
If you know what your triggers are, then it is easier to choose alternatives and steer clear of the foods that make you pop to help reduce Christmas bloating. You may find that you can tolerate a little of these foods, but not a lot, and in many cases it is possible to build your tolerance up, so take care not to overdo it.
5. Keep moving
Gentle exercise, like taking a walk after meals may help manage and reduce Christmas bloating, and keep digestion regular. What better way to finish your Christmas dinner than getting out for a walk before heading back home for your favourite Christmas movie.