During the festive season, we are inclined to eat more sugary, fatty and rich foods – with research suggesting that the average adult ploughs their way through 6,000 calories on Christmas…
During the festive season, we are inclined to eat more sugary, fatty and rich foods – with research suggesting that the average adult ploughs their way through 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. It therefore comes as no surprise that many people suffer from digestive issues - such as indigestion, bloating and wind- at this time of year. Try these expert tips from nutritionist Sarah West to help beat the bloat this festive season:
Try to eat little and often
Because the body finds fat hard to digest, a large, fattening meal can remain in the stomach for up to two hours while the gastric juices try to break it down, causing an uncomfortable full feeling and bloating. Give your digestive process a rest by consuming smaller quantities over the course of the day rather than having one big blow out.
Don’t skip meals
If you’re prone to indigestion, don’t be tempted to skip meals to save on calories – the stomach is continually producing gastric acid and without food the acid levels rise. Eating helps “mop up” some of that acid, so a healthy snack is better than nothing at all. A mix of protein and complex carbohydrates (such as an oatcake with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts or some vegetables sticks with hummous) is ideal.
Take it slow
Many of us eat our food far too quickly, meaning that the saliva in the mouth doesn’t get a chance to start breaking down food in the vital first stage of digestion. If food isn’t adequately broken down, this can cause problems further down the line in the form of gas and bloating. Always take the time to chew each bite properly (around 20-30 times). Try putting your knife and fork down between bites, to encourage you to really focus on each mouthful at a time. Your brain is about 10-20 minutes behind your stomach when it comes to registering fullness, so this will also help to avoid unconscious overeating.
Take a good quality probiotic
A large quantity of sugary, fatty foods can upset the body’s balance of intestinal flora – promoting the growth of bad bacteria and making you more likely to suffer from unpleasant digestive symptoms. Taking a ‘live’ probiotic can help to readdress the balance of bacteria and leave you feeling more comfortable. I recommend Symprove (www.symprove.com) - its unique formula is clinically proven to survive the acidic environment of the stomach, unlike many other commercial probiotic formulations, and it has great results for those with IBS.
Be careful what you drink
Alcohol is a common indigestion culprit as it can damage the protective mucus lining of the stomach, leading to inflammation. The bubbles and artificial sweeteners in fizzy drinks can also cause your stomach to balloon. Alternating each alcoholic or fizzy drink with a glass of water is a great way to help keep unpleasant symptoms at bay.
A healthier Christmas dinner
The average Christmas dinner contains over 1,400 calories: 70% of the total calorie intake for an adult woman. However, you don’t need to deprive yourself to avoid overdoing it. You can cut calories by choosing white turkey meat and removing the skin (saving about 50 calories per portion). Go easy on the roast potatoes and pile high the unbuttered vegetables - the more vegetables you eat the less room you’re likely to have for higher calories alternatives. When it comes to dessert, stick to a single portion and swap double cream or brandy butter for single cream or reduced fat crème fraiche. You won’t notice the difference but swapping from double to single cream will save over 300 calories per serving.
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