Christmas is synonymous with celebrations and big meals, but you needn’t let that leave you in discomfort. Irrespective of whether or not you suffer with digestive issues, there are a few evidence-based approaches that may just help dodge that bloat during the festivities and beyond. BANT registered nutritionist Eva Humphries takes a look.
Fruit before meals, not after
I’ll state the obvious here: the majority of bloating is actually caused by overeating, which for most of us will be a factor at Christmas and during other similar celebrations.
There is nothing quite like those oversized portions followed by a family board game and afternoon nap.
While eating smaller portions would be the best way to reduce that bloat, there is one thing that may make a big difference by itself: eating fruit before that main meal instead of after it. Let me explain why.
When we eat a large, protein-rich meal, it takes a while for it to travel through our digestive system and break down. You’ll likely know this yourself because it’ll take you a while to feel hungry again after a large meal. I don’t mean peckish, I mean actually hungry.
Hunger is usually a decent indicator that the digestive system is empty and is therefore ready for more food.
Now let’s look at the fruit bit.
Unlike protein, simple carbohydrates such as fruit break down relatively quickly. Having fruit after a large protein-rich meal thus results in the fruit sitting on top of the large meal and slowly fermenting while it waits for its turn to be digested. Fermentation is highly likely to cause wind and bloating.
Switch to fruit before that main meal and the fruit will travel through your digestive system without those unpleasant side effects.
Add a bit of acid
Without going into too much of the nerdy science, the digestion of proteins needs acid. Acids help
to break apart proteins before enzymes complete dividing them into individual fractions known as amino acids. It’s these amino acids that we can absorb and use to make new proteins.
If the proteins happen to not break down, they usually end up being fermented by our gut microbes and produce some super-smelly excess gas.
Assuming you’ll want to dodge the production of super-smelly excess gas, then adding a small amount of acid to main meals may just help.
Practically, this may mean a side of pickles, a vinegar-based dressing on a portion of food, or starting a meal with a dressed salad.
A small quantity goes a long way.
Go for a post-meal stroll
Having a nap after a large meal is super tempting. Your entire body diverts its resources to focusing on digestion and with that comes that happy lull of sleepiness that makes you nod off on the sofa.
Sadly, falling asleep slows the digestive system and makes it more likely for bloating to occur.
The longer something sits in the digestive tract, the more likely it is to ferment and, as mentioned earlier, fermentation is synonymous with bloating and gas.
A gentle post-meal stroll is a perfect antidote. Walking assists the digestive system to move the food that you just consumed, improving the process of digestion.
Plus, you’ll have a better nap after a walk…
- You can find more of Eva’s work online on wholefoodwarrior.co.uk or via social media under @wholefoodwarrior on most platforms.