Christmas cookies. Fruitcake. Eggnog. Festive cocktails. Filling dinners with family and friends. For many of us, the Christmas season can take a toll on our digestive system (harming us in both the short and longer term). The holiday aftermath doesn’t need to be about discomfort, though. In this article, we’ll look at some easy, practical ways to help combat indigestion?and have a happier, healthier season.
First, what exactly is indigestion? The condition usually refers to a collection of one or more symptoms that result after you eat a meal: bloating, gas, cramping, upset stomach, and that ?sluggish? feeling. Although some suffer indigestion after each meal, most experience the symptoms only after large meals or after eating foods that aren’t part of their usual food regimen (Christmas goodies, for instance).
What causes it? While It’s easy to use a blanket statement to describe the cause (?you ate too much?), the causes of digestive upset are often multi-factorial. Frequently It’s several elements working together at once.
Most commonly, basic indigestion stems from the following: eating too quickly, eating in a non-relaxed state, consuming too large a portion size, enjoying too many fat-laden foods in a short time period, or eating just prior to bedtime. Unfortunately, all factors seem to collide during the holiday season.
What Can I Do?
There are several ways you can help prevent indigestion from ruining your holidays:
? Moderation. Although the tray of Christmas goodies looks tempting enough to devour the whole thing, hold back. Try a tasting just a few of your favourites; it will be easier on your stomach (as well as your waistline!).
? Timing. If you know You’re heading to bed in less than two hours, take more careful note of what you eat?particularly your portion size. Consuming higher-fat foods or too much of any food just prior to bedtime can trigger indigestion. Eating right before bed also means restless sleep, which will make you feel exhausted in the morning.
? Drink water. Ensuring You’re well hydrated (you should be drinking at least eight glasses of water daily) often correlates with better bowel transit time, meaning constipation woes are kept at bay. Adequate water also helps with cell hydration, headache prevention, and an overall feel-good sensation.
? Eat fibre. Typical holiday fare is low in fibre, so make a deliberate effort to include more whole vegetable and fruit choices with your meals. Fibre helps counteract constipation, and it can help you feel fuller quicker?meaning You’re less likely to overconsume other foods.
? Digestive enzymes. Our digestive systems naturally produce digestive enzymes, proteins that help with food breakdown. However, stress causes our bodies to produce fewer digestive enzymes than normal. So does eating too quickly. Additionally, suddenly eating a much-larger-than-normal portion size (Christmas dinner, for instance) means our body’s usual levels of digestive enzymes are no longer adequate. The result: indigestion. To counteract this, you can safely supplement with digestive enzymes in moderation. These can be found in encapsulated form at most health food stores. Choose a multi-enzyme blend, which contains a mix of each type of enzyme your body produces. Take one to two capsules at the beginning of your large meal, and enjoy a worry-free dinner experience!
This year, indigestion doesn’t have to be the unwelcome guest at the family gathering. Enjoy a healthy holiday season!
Katie D?Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.