Tis the season for family, festivity and food- lots and lots of food! So how can you maintain good digestive health this holiday season, when everyone around you seems to be splurging? Heartburn, constipation, indigestion and diarrhea are common as you hop from one holiday feast to another. But instead of suffering throughout the holidays, there are some things you can do to keep you feeling good well into 2019!
Below are 10 helpful tips outlined by Digestive Health Specialists that will allow you to enjoy the season of giving, without giving yourself a stomach ache!
Move: After the pumpkin pie, don’t stretch out on the couch, because you are bound to get worsening acid reflux if you do. Instead, go out for a short brisk walk. In general, try to keep up your regular exercise plan during the holidays – at least as well as you can amid the holiday chaos.
Nibble, don’t gobble: It’s good advice year-round, but it’s especially important now. It will help the stomach empty better and suppress the appetite. You won’t want to overeat as much if you eat slowly. Let your food digest – literally – before having seconds.
Say cheers, in moderation: If you are over 21, alcohol might be a part of your holiday gatherings. It is important to remember that even moderate alcohol intake can be associated with an IBD flare, GERD, and medication interactions with some individuals. Alcohol consumption is an individual decision, and through trial and error as well as open discussion with your physician, you can learn your limits and still enjoy the holidays.
Track yourself, but treat yourself: Keep track of the food you eat during the holiday season and any resulting symptoms. With this you can look back on what you ate, and know what you were able to tolerate for future occasions. Don’t be afraid to expand your diet choices, and remember that even some junk foods have nutritional value if you partake in them sensibly.
Make trade-offs: Accept that you’ll indulge during the holidays -everybody does. Just do it strategically. Think about what you most want and plan for it. If what you really love about Christmas dinner is your mother’s sweet potato pie, go ahead and have a slice. But decide not to have second helpings of the potatoes, stuffing, and everything else. Indulging in high carbohydrate foods for example, can leading to bloating and increased nausea at times.
Compensate: If you know that you’ll be eating a lot of fatty food at holiday parties this week, compensate by eating a salad for lunch. Essential amino acids and grains found in a salad will help keep your GI tract working normally.
Keep food out of the “danger zone”: Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature. After food is cooked, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours. The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F. This will help you avoid common food borne infections which may result in diarrhea and vomiting.
Eat more fiber: Most holiday meals lack one very important nutrient- fiber. Without fiber, your digestive system slows down causing constipation. Fill up on high fiber foods such as green beans and broccoli, to help yourself stay regular.
Avoid going to a party hungry: Eat a small snack beforehand, preferably one with a small amount of fat in it such as a small handful of almonds, salmon, avocado or a boiled egg. The fat content in the snacks will fill you up and mean you won’t be inclined to snack on too many high-fat, salty nibbles at the party.
Be prepared: The main thing to remember is to always be prepared by knowing the tips above, and by thinking ahead. If going someplace for a meal or party bring a dish with you that you know you can eat, and that you can share with others. If nothing else, always have a snack on hand. Try eating before hand to limit what you might eat elsewhere or to decrease your temptation to try things which you know might not sit well with your tummy.
Your family at Digestive Health Specialists wish you a very happy holiday season! Please call us if you have any trouble during this time of year.