Festive season is one time of the year when the dieting rules are never followed and we indulge in food, drinks and desserts. Indulging in tasty treats can affect digestion and cause unpleasant symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. During an intense binging period, the gut microbiome is affected, which can cause chronic digestive issues. Instead of taking an antacid, follow some healthier options to keep the digestive health in check during the festive season.
Controlling portion size during the festive season would be hard. However, portion control does not mean avoiding your favorite food. Taste your favorite food, but in smaller quantities. Limit the portion size by using smaller plates, utensils and serving spoons. Some food can trigger digestive distress. Avoid foods that trigger acid reflux such as fried foods, spicy and acidic foods. Fatty foods are hard to digest and slow down the digestive system. Swap such foods with a low-calorie alternative to maintain healthy digestion.
Slow Down and Chew
Eating too fast can slow down digestion and lead to abdominal pain and constipation. Pace yourself when you eat and chew the food because digestion begins in the mouth. An adequate amount of time spent in chewing makes it easier for digestion. Chewing gives the brain a chance to register when you are full and helps prevent overeating.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is important for digestion, but most of the holiday meals are high in fat and lack fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods help maintain gastrointestinal muscle tone and flush out toxins. Some of the foods rich in fiber are broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, and pears. Fresh fruits and salads also provide fiber and help prevent overeating.
The easiest way to keep the digestion healthy during the festive season is to stay hydrated. Hydrate the body by drinking water and fresh juice. Most people mistake thirst for hunger and tend to overeat. Drink water 20 to 30 minutes before meals rather than during meals. Add sliced lemons, cucumbers, mint leaves and ginger to your water bottle and sip it regularly to not only increase digestion but also to help flush out toxins.
Herbal teas are a perfect drink to improve digestion. Some of the healthy options are peppermint, chamomile, and green tea. These are caffeine free and therefore do not dehydrate the system. Herbal teas help boost metabolism, aid in weight loss and also help relieve bloating. Peppermint tea aids in digestion and green tea regulates the digestive system.
Probiotics often referred to as good bacteria aid in digestion. Probiotics help prevent bloating after a heavy meal. The good bacteria in probiotics make digestion easier by breaking down lactose and other sugars in the food. Some of the fermented products like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut offer a healthy dose of probiotics that not only keep the gut healthy but also help curb cravings.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
High consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages can affect digestion. Caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows food to travel backward triggering indigestion and heartburn. Caffeine and alcohol enhance the production of stomach acid secretions and cause irritation. It can also hinder the absorption of nutrients by damaging the cells that line the stomach and intestines. People with a digestive problem should eliminate caffeine or swap coffee for green tea which has lower caffeine.
Most people are likely to become stressed during the festive season.. Stress can affect the contraction of the digestive muscle and cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system. One of the best ways to manage stress and maintain healthy digestion is to engage in physical activity. Relaxation therapies, such as yoga and meditation can also help relieve stress. Studies have shown that relaxation therapy can provide relief from abdominal pain, bloating and other digestive issues.
Sleep is essential for a healthy digestion and recovery is important after a long busy day. The amount and quality of sleep can affect digestion. Adequate sleep ensures that the digestive system has enough time for rest and repair. For a good night’s sleep, drink herbal tea such as chamomile, which also aids in healthy digestion.
Regular exercise can help keep the digestive system healthy. Holidays can affect the exercise routine. Exercise will aid in digestion, but avoid heavy workout after a meal as it can slow down digestion. Exercise can strengthen the digestive system and increase the absorption of nutrients more effectively. A consistent exercise routine can help avoid digestive disorders like bloating, cramps and constipation.