With the holidays fast approaching there are lots to be excited about! Visiting with loved ones, gift giving, and of course, eating all of the delicious, festive foods. But sometimes, with all of the excitement and fun, comes along with it a side of anxiety about how our bodies will handle all of the indulgences. Of course, it’s lovely to enjoy our favorite foods, but when it comes at the price of stomach pain and digestive discomfort, it can leave us feeling unsure about our choices and more importantly, confused about how to feel better. If you’re prone to bloating and other linked digestive issues like distention, burping or embarrassing flatulence, you may be wondering how to decrease bloating? The good news is that there are several things you can do to support your digestion and beat the holiday bloat this season!
Bloating and abdominal distention occur when there’s too much intestinal gas in the body. It’s either a result of the intestines producing excess gas, or it’s a buildup of gas caused by disturbances in the digestive tract. The excess gas can be caused by having too much air in the stomach (often from swallowing too much air via straws or carbonated beverages), or it can be the result of gut bacteria breaking down nutrients and fermenting them inside the colon. Overeating and eating foods that aren’t easily digested in the small intestine are two of the most common causes of bloating.
Beat the Bloat
Like any health concern, the best results come when we’re tuned in and intuitively listening and responding to our bodies’ cues. Following a combination of the 5 strategies below will support your digestive system so that you can enjoy your holidays without worry.
1. Back to Basics
Optimal digestion begins with getting back to the basics, which means that we must be in a state of rest as opposed to a state of stress when we’re eating. By slowing down and taking a breath before eating, we’re giving the body, and the parasympathetic nervous system, the signal to allow appropriate blood flow to the digestive organs.1
Slowing down, swallowing less air and chewing properly makes it easier on the digestive system and gives the brain the chance to realize that we’ve had enough food. This mindful eating approach lessens the likelihood of overeating, which is also one of the main culprits of uncomfortable bloating!
2. Avoid Overloading
Don’t make the common mistake of avoiding meals and snacks throughout the day to save your calories up for your favorite holiday meal. This strategy nearly always backfires and usually results in eating too much in one sitting - a major stress on the digestive system! A much better strategy is to follow hunger cues throughout the day so that you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderate amounts. By following certain mindful eating tips and avoiding overindulging with a big meal or constant grazing throughout the day, your body will thank you by avoiding the stomach pain and discomfort that usually follows overeating.
3. Limit Offenders
Being aware of any food intolerance and other trigger foods so you can avoid or limit them will go a long way when it comes to preventing digestive issues and bloating. Some of the food culprits causing the most problems are highly fermented foods that aren’t easily digested in the small intestine. A group of carbohydrates known as the FODMAPS includes things like lactose from dairy products and fructose from fruit. In some people, these foods may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and instead they move through to the large colon where they are fermented by the gut bacteria causing painful gas and uncomfortable stomach bloating. Other common foods to consider limiting include wheat, artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol), sulfurous veggies (onions, garlic, Brussel sprouts) as well as high fiber foods.
4. Take Probiotics
Last but not least, if you’re feeling off balance from all of the holiday indulgences, loading up on healthy bacteria like those found in the scientifically-proven and trusted Bio-K+ probiotics products helps to support digestive health by adding beneficial bacteria in your gut and ultimately it may balance your gut microbiota. A balanced gut microbiota means less intestinal gas and less bloating. Given the clear link between probiotics and digestive health, choosing a premium quality and effective product like Bio-K+, created with a deep expertise in microbiome health, can truly make a difference in your health and quality of life!
When it comes to the holidays and how to prevent holiday bloating, there’s no need to sit back and avoid your favorite indulgences completely. By paying attention to the tips and tools mentioned above you can take charge of your bloated stomach, leaving you to enjoy the season along with all of the festive cheer!
- Browning, K. N., & Travagli, R. A. (2014). Central nervous system control of gastrointestinal motility and secretion and modulation of gastrointestinal functions. Comprehensive Physiology, 4(4), 1339-68.