Avoiding Gastric Distress During The Holidays

December 6, 2022

The holiday season is an excellent time of year, full of family, friends, and good food. However, it can be challenging for those with gastric distress or other dietary restrictions to find anything to eat at all celebratory events.

Feeling anxious about all the holiday food choices is understandable if you have gastrointestinal issues. The good news is there are a plethora of ways to enjoy the holidays and maintain a healthy gut. Our experts can help when it comes to navigating gut issues during the holidays.

Quick Tips On Fending Off Gastric Distress

To begin your day in an ideal way, eat yogurt. Kefir and greek yogurt contain essential nutrients and offer balance to your gut. Consuming these yogurts before starting a food-centric day will provide probiotics that aid digestion by breaking down food more effectively. In addition, both options help reduce stomach inflammation often caused by bloating. You can add them to your favorite fruit smoothie or eat them plain- regardless of how you enjoy them, they’ll support an enjoyable gut-friendly day ahead!

Be conscientious of how much water you drink every day. You may not know this, but our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water. So, it’s no surprise that experts say we need to consume fluids daily to maintain a balanced diet and good gut health. Not only does drinking enough H2O help your body get rid of waste more efficiently, but it also acts as a natural cushion for your joints and helps regulate blood pressure levels. When it comes to having a healthy digestive system, ensuring you’re taking in adequate water is key to proper digestion processes. Water is not only essential for carrying nutrients around the body, but it also helps to keep everything in balance. Dehydration often leads to stomach problems like heartburn, ulcers, and constipation.

This holiday season, take some time to reflect on what foods you have poorly reacted to. Avoiding those will allow you to choose both gut-friendly and delicious options!

This holiday season, take some time to reflect on what foods you have poorly reacted to. Avoiding those will allow you to choose both gut-friendly and delicious options!

Getting up and moving after dinner helps your digestive system work more efficiently. Walking, in particular, speeds up the movement of food, nutrients, and acids through your intestines, which decreases the likelihood of heartburn or acid reflux. Walking with family members after dinner is also a great way to enjoy cooler temperatures and spend time outdoors.

To aid your digestion, aim to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day rather than large meals three times a day. Pay attention to how your body communicates while eating, and stop once you reach satiety. Additionally, take the time to chew your food thoroughly – especially if you’re consuming any new or unfamiliar foods. Breaking down your food properly before swallowing will give your digestive system a head start in processing what’s ahead.

This holiday season, focus on filling your plate with resistant starch foods. Resistant starch is a prebiotic-rich fiber found in various everyday holiday dishes. Once consumed, they labor by feeding good bacteria in your gut, maintaining a healthy and balanced core. In addition to promoting gut health, resistant starches have also been shown to improve blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and increase satiety after meals.

With all the fantastic food and drink options available during the holidays, it can be tempting to want to try everything. However, overindulging in both sugary desserts and alcoholic beverages can cause digestive problems. You’ll help your body process less sugar and maintain a healthy pH balance by choosing one or the other. 

Make sure you eat plenty of fiber each day. A balanced gut is crucial; one of the best ways to achieve this is by consuming enough fiber. However, most holiday food staples need adequate dietary fiber. Your gut becomes imbalanced when there’s a discrepancy between high consumption levels and low fiber intake, resulting in gastrointestinal issues like inflammation and discomfort. In addition to savoring your favorite seasonal dishes, add some extra flair to your plate with nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, beans, broccoli, potatoes, nuts, or avocado— all rich sources of dietary fiber.

Gastric Issues You May Experience this Holiday Season

An upset stomach can present itself differently for each person but is often due to inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines. Overeating is a common trigger.

  • Eat before and after your event: To help prevent indigestion during big holiday parties, eat simple foods before the event. By not overeating before the party, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the delicious food without stomach discomfort.
  • Always keep ginger tea and a hot water bottle close by if possible. These will come in handy when you need quick relief. For example, ginger can help ease an upset stomach, and hot water can be soothing.

When you have bloating, it feels like your stomach is much fuller than usual and sometimes with increased pressure. You might also feel like you have a lot of gas.

  • Regularly eating meals throughout the day makes you less likely to overeat at the party and feel bloated afterward.
  • Did you know that digestion begins in the mouth? Chew your food slowly to give your body a head start on breaking down all those delicious nutrients.
  • To avoid bloating at a party, consume moderate amounts of onion, garlic, wheat, apple, and pear. These foods are rich in carbs that act as food for the microbes in your gut and can create excess gas.

A moderate burning feeling mid-chest or in the throat is called heartburn. It’s common to experience it after a meal and when lying down.

  • One key to maintaining a healthy weight is listening to your body’s hunger cues. Overeating happens when we ignore these cues, so eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied but not stuffed.
  • Save some room for dessert: If you’re feeling full but still want to enjoy a sweet treat, take one and eat it later when you get hungry again.
  • To avoid heartburn symptoms, stop eating roughly three hours before bed. This gives your stomach time to digest and decreases the amount of acid produced. Laying down with a full stomach allows that acid to move more easily into your esophagus.
  • Cut down on your alcohol consumption: Alcohol is a common heartburn trigger, so it’s important to moderate your intake.
  • To avoid heartburn, fill up on lower-fat foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Some people find that citrus- and tomato-based foods irritate their heartburn. If these same foods worsen your symptoms, it’s best to either avoid them or eat less.

At least 8 million annual visits to healthcare providers in the US are due to constipation. Constipation is the infrequent passing of stool (typically less than three bowel movements per week).

  • Finding time to exercise during the holiday season can be challenging, but keeping your body moving is essential. Exercise helps with gut motility and constipation. Even a simple walk can make a difference.
  • Follow your body’s natural cues, and don’t stall when you urge to go. The longer you wait, the drier your stool becomes, making it more difficult to pass later.
  • Eat prunes as a snack: It’s not just an old wives’ tale. Prunes are a natural laxative rich in sorbitol.
  • Starting your day with a hot beverage can help you wake up and get your bowels moving. Caffeine and warm drinks stimulate gut motility, so coffee or tea can aid a complete bowel movement.

Diarrhea happens when you have watery stools three or more times a day.

  • Don’t let holiday stress defeat you: It can cause loose stool, so take some time to de-stress. Whether through meditation, a light workout, or catching up with friends, find what works and stick to it.
  • Be cautious of the foods you’re consuming: Indulging in too much rich, fatty food can lead to diarrhea. You can leave these dishes altogether, though. Instead, assess the quantity and frequency you eat them. Have half a serving at dinner or forego leftovers another day.

The holiday season is all about gut-healthy indulgence with the people you love. Celebrate and bond over delicious, gut-friendly foods that’ll leave you satisfied long after the holidays.

At Gastro Florida, our team of specialists is dedicated to helping you maintain your gut health. We offer examinations, diagnoses, and treatments to help you achieve your objectives, schedule an appointment today.