How many of us plan to wear loose-fitting clothing for holidays like Thanksgiving? Along with the Holiday season also arrives the temptation to overeat. And with overeating, comes bloating. The good news is that by following a few simple tips, many causes of the bloated belly can be avoided.
Rich, fatty food: Many holiday delicacies are rich have a high fat content, yet fatty food can leave you feeling fuller longer, as it takes longer to digest than proteins or carbohydrates. While we may all want to sample some delicious holiday fare, doing so in moderation will help avoid the bloat.
Eating too fast or too much: Since it takes up to 20 minutes for your belly to tell your brain you’ve had enough to eat, eating too quickly can make it easy to overindulge. It’s best to pace yourself and enjoy your meal. Listen when your brain says: “Enough!” A small, high protein or high fiber snack before a meal (say, a piece of cheese or a piece of whole grain bread with olive oil) can help with this.
Food sensitivities: Food sensitivities can lead to bloating. It may take a little “detective work” to figure out if you are sensitive to any types of food, but the results may well be worth it. One at a time, remove foods from your diet that are known to cause bloating. Dairy products are a common culprit and fructose (a type of sugar) can ferment in the gastrointestinal tract, causing gas and bloating. Caffeine can irritate the digestive system and may also cause bloating. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol can’t be digested and can also result in bloating.
If bloating has already set in, try these tips:
Drink plenty of water. While this may seem counterintuitive, water helps in two ways. First, plenty of water can facilitate digestion. Second, when your body senses that it is dehydrated, it will actually retain water.
Try fennel, peppermint tea and green tea. These natural diuretics may help to decrease bloating.
Take a high-quality probiotic or eat naturally-fermented foods such as yogurt. These contain healthy bacteria for your gut that may help to reduce bloating.
While feasting on food is central to many Holidays this time of year, by taking some steps to avoid bloating, you may enjoy the season more without that over-full feeling.