Enjoy the Christmas countdown….. and be kind to your digestive system!

The festive season typically means an onslaught of parties, family gatherings and office nibbles making it hard to maintain a healthy balance with food, makig your digestive system struggle. This year you can avoid the bloating, tummy discomfort and weight gain, as with a few savvy choices you can enjoy the festivities and still keep your gut healthy.

We consume, on average, a whopping 6,000 -7,000 calories over the course of Christmas Day, four times a woman’s daily recommended intake and more than three times a man’s. It’s no wonder that on average people gain about 5lbs over the festive season!!
But if you also struggle with IBS or other digestive symptoms, then Christmas can be a particularly tricky time. Too much food, over- indulging in fatty and sugary foods, not to mention the alcohol and heightened emotions, can easily affect sensitive guts.

christmas food

Here are some top tips to give your digestive system and your body a good time too.

1. Reduce Your Portions & Chew
Being stuffed full of food can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable for the rest of the day, but this year simply downsize your plate to keep portions more manageable. It’s also so important to remember to chew your food, as chewing your food properly can have several benefits: it reduces the amount of air you swallow (a cause of bloating); it helps stimulates digestive enzymes to help you break down food, and it makes you eat more slowly, which is linked to reduced food intake.

2. Know Your Food Triggers
Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common. If you already know that you react to certain foods, then just plan ahead and take some ‘free-from’ options with you when visiting friends and family. Common food triggers which are particularly linked to bloating include lactose (the milk sugar found in many dairy products), fructose (fruit, dried fruit, fruit juices etc), wheat, gluten and eggs.

3. Cut Back on the Fat
Fatty foods can slow down digestion and emptying of the stomach. While this may have benefits for satiety, it can cause many people to experience indigestion or bloating. Some people find foods that support gallbladder function helpful so fill up on antioxidant-rich, fruits and vegetables and fibre rich legumes and cut back on fried foods, processed foods and alcohol. Beets, artichoke and dandelion greens can improve bile flow, which breaks down fat.

4. Try Peppermint Tea
Bloating may also be caused by the altered function of the muscles in the digestive tract – this can be aggravated by stress and lack of sleep over the festive season. Peppermint tea has been shown to help reduce muscle spasm and reduce various IBS symptoms.

6. Watch the Sugar
Many sweet treats at Christmas are packed with fat and sugar. Syrups, honey, sugars and dried fruits are all likely to aggravate digestive symptoms, not to mention the extra calories you will be consuming when you eat such foods. Alcohol can also upset your gut so alternate your drinks with glasses of water to keep yourself hydrated through the day.

Claire Kimber, our Nutritional Therapist and Coach can look at what works for you and how to achieve a healthy eating plan. Contact us for more details by emailing post@the-terrace.co.uk

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