If you’re not ending Christmas day slumped on the couch in a food coma in the loosest fitting pants you own, is it even Christmas? ‘Tis the season for over-indulgence after all, but unfortunately the post-feasting bloat can often leave your belly feeling anything but merry.
Here are five tried and tested ways to indulge this festive season without the bulge (no elasticized pants required).
Eat Less Inflammatory Foods
These are foods that trigger a histamine response in the body to fight off “foreign invaders” like microbes or chemicals. This often leads to bloating, increased fluid retention and poor digestion. Common culprits include wheat, gluten, soy, commercial dairy, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and alcohol. Of course, we’re not saying you should by-pass the festive offerings altogether – it is Christmas after all. Instead, try limiting sweets to one per meal and alternate the cork-popping with a glass of water. Also, go easy on the salt, as too much sodium can cause fluid retention which can make you feel even more inflated.
Eat More Wholefoods
Load up your plate with mostly fresh and minimally processed foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats like turkey and fish, and gluten free wholegrains like brown rice and quinoa are all great choices. Potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, bananas and squash can also help regulate excess sodium. However, go easy on the brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli as these veggies are common culprits for causing unwanted gas – and nobody wants that at the dinner table.
Chew Your Food
Faced with a fork full of lamb roast and crispy potatoes, it can be tempting to wolf it down in anticipation of that next delicious mouthful, without taking the time to chew your food properly. Chewing triggers the whole digestive process and breaks the food down into smaller, more easily digested particles. It also forces you to slow down, giving your hunger and fullness hormones time to signal the brain when you’ve had enough.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water speeds up digestion and can help reduce the effects of salt and carb-induced puffiness. To calculate your minimum water requirements, multiply your weight in kg by 33 – 35, then add more if you exercise frequently or live in a hot climate. If that amount feels challenging, try incorporating herbal teas to meet your daily quota. Ginger and peppermint teas are especially good for supporting healthy digestion.
As tempting as it is to slip into a food-coma on the sofa, it will likely make bloating worse. Research has shown that we tend to hold more gas in the gut while resting. A leisurely walk or light jog on the other hand can help carry more oxygen to the digestive tract and keep things moving along.