5 Ways to Manage Holiday Bloating
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 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 symptoms like distention, burping or embarrassing flatulence, the good news is that there are several things you can do to support your digestion and beat the bloat this holiday season!
Bloating and distention occur when there’s too much 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 muscles. 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 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 bloating!
2. Avoid Overloading:
Don’t make the common mistake of avoiding meals and snacks throughout the day to save your calories up for holiday meals. 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 avoiding overindulging with large meals or constant grazing throughout the day, your body will thank you by avoiding the pain and discomfort that usually follows overeating.
3. Limit Offenders:
Being aware of your 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 fermentable foods that aren’t easily digested in the small intestine. A group of carbohydrates known as the FODMAPS includes things like lactose from dairy 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 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. Pair Well:
Stoking your digestive system before eating along with pairing the best types of nutrients together is yet another tool you can use to support your digestion. Eating something bitter before a large meal like a salad made of bitter green veggies (arugula, mustard or dandelion) or, ingesting a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with a small amount of water can help to start gastric juices flowing. Another important tool, although not always as practical, is to follow the food pairing rules. These rules include eating fruit alone (not after a meal) and eating animal protein paired with veggies (as opposed to starches). These rules work because different types of foods take different amounts of time to digest and also require different types of digestive enzymes to break down. Beyond resulting in a flatter stomach, these rules may also help your body absorb nutrients better too!
5. 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 can help to restore a healthy balance of the “good bacteria” in the gut. More good bacteria in your microbiome means less gas and less bloating plus it can help to normalize bowel movements and alleviate constipation - another major cause of uncomfortable 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, 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 belly and bloat, leaving you to enjoy the season along with all of the festive cheer!
Do you have any other questions about gut health? Ask us in the comments below. If you are looking to stock up on Bio-K+, head to our store locator. For more information on Bio-K+, probiotics and digestive health, contact us, find us on Facebook and Instagram or join our community.
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.