It’s no secret that the holidays can derail our best diet efforts. When faced with an endless array of seasonal favorites, such as stuffing, pumpkin pie, peppermint bark, honey ham, potato pancakes, apple cider and eggnog, even the healthiest diners among us may find their resolve crumbling faster than Aunt Betty’s homemade Christmas cookies.
Sadly, that end-of-year weight gain is often accompanied by another equally unpleasant side effect: digestive issues. Difficult-to-digest foods during the holidays can cause a host of painful conditions, including acid reflux, heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and general stomach discomfort. These issues may be further exacerbated for those with food intolerances or inflammatory bowel disease.
Protecting your stomach during the holidays
Want to stay ahead of stomach upset this holiday season? Can’t say we blame you! Check out these tips to help protect your belly from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day:
- Adhere to a healthy, balanced diet that includes ample fiber
- Avoid foods known to trigger acid reflux and heartburn (e.g., caffeinated beverages, citrus, tomatoes, chocolate)
- Chew food properly to signal digestion
- Eat small snacks or meals every few hours to regulate blood sugar and prevent “hangry” holiday binges
- Avoid overeating, which can cause discomfort and pain in the digestive tract
- Take probiotics (a.k.a. friendly bacteria) regularly to help support normal digestion
- Take a digestive enzyme, such as Beano® Food Enzyme, before eating to help your body break down foods without accompanying bloating, gas and stomach discomfort
- Supplement with stomach comfort extract, which does exactly as its name implies
- Take chamomile flower supplements to promote digestive health
- Reduce/manage stress, which can cause or aggravate digestive issues
- Get plenty of exercise (holiday shopping and caroling totally count!)
Treating holiday tummy troubles
Even the best intentions can fall by the wayside when you’re staring down a truly impressive seasonal spread. Arm yourself with the following digestive aids and methods so you’ll be ready should a stomachache strike:
Digestive bitters aid digestion by increasing the production of stomach acid. Just 1/4 teaspoon will provide rapid relief for bloating, gas and/or heartburn.
Ginger root capsules “provide nutritive support to help maintain a normal, calm stomach.”
Antacids, such as Extra Strength Tums Smoothies Chewable Tablets, temporarily relieve acid indigestion, heartburn and sour stomach within minutes.
4. The pink stuff
Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), provides relief from diarrhea and “upset stomach due to overindulgence in food and drink, including: heartburn, indigestion, nausea, gas, belching, fullness.”
Terry Naturally Clinical Strength Peppermint Forte™ delivers a blend of essential oils, including peppermint oil, caraway oil, cardamom oil and coriander oil to “support digestive relief and comfort.”
Old Fashioned Cola Syrup “has traditionally been used to soothe the stomach.”
Good old fashioned Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar can also help settle the stomach. Add a tablespoon to a glass of warm water. Mix in a teaspoon of honey for sweetness, if desired.
9. Foods that soothe
Have the following foods on hand? Here’s how to use them to your advantage!
- Steep some mint leaves in warm water for sipping
- Chew on cumin or fennel seeds
- Suck on a peppermint candy—even a candy cane!
You can also lie on a heating pad! Happy and healthy holidays, everyone!