From festive fizz and tempting chocolate selections to heavy roasts and rich cheeseboards, Christmas can take its toll on your digestive system. But gut flare-ups, like bloating and indigestion, don’t have to be a side-effect of too much holiday fun. Here’s how to soothe your insides
BEAT THE BOAT
Bloating happens when we create too much gas, which then gets trapped in the gut. ‘It is usually diet-related, so it’s worth keeping a food diary to see if there is a pattern,’ says nutritional therapist Shona Wilkinson (shonawilkinson.com). ‘Practise mindful eating: sit upright, eat slowly and chew your food properly.’ In other words, don’t wolf down that cheeseboard…Peppermint is calming and can help relieve trapped gas. Take Superdrug Peppermint Oil Capsules*, 50mg, £5.99, or drink peppermint tea.
This can have a combination of causes. ‘You may be lacking digestive enzymes or have low acid levels,’ notes Shona, which means food isn’t broken down properly. Avoid eating big portions late at night and go easy on spicy foods and caffeine. ‘Lemon juice may help to improve acidity and encourage digestive juices. Add the juice of half a lemon to a small glass of water and sip with meals,’ she advises. Or you can supplement your diet with Wellzyme Digestive Enzymes Advanced Formula*, £22.95.
Irritable bowel syndrome is tricky to treat because there is no single cause. ‘Several factors, including suffering from a gut infection like travellers’ diarrhoea or food poisoning, as well as a history of trauma, depression or stress, can all increase your risk,’ says Dr Megan Rossi, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and author of Eat Yourself Healthy(theguthealthdoctor.com).
Dr Rossi recommends dietary changes to manage symptoms. ‘Reduce caffeine, sweeteners and rich foods and try spreading your fibre intake across the day,’ she advises.
Yoga can bring some relief (especially poses where you twist your torso), as can Senocalm IBS Relief & Prevention*, £5.99.
CLEAR OUT CONSTIPATION
‘Not getting enough wholegrain fibre or having low activity levels and feeling tense and under pressure can all be causes,’ notes Dr Rossi – meaning constipation is the Christmas gift no one wants.
Add fibre to your diet, to soften your stools and move things along. Eat plenty of vegetables during the holiday, as well as nuts, oats and fruit. ‘Inulin is a great prebiotic fibre and is perfect for helping combat constipation,’ adds Shona. Find it in Probio 7 Digestive Health Supplement*, £11.49. Oh, and drink lots of water in between those glasses of mulled wine.
‘Diarrhoea can be caused by many issues, such as IBS, food poisoning and even anxiety,’ says consultant dietitian Kirsten Jackson (thefoodtreatmentclinic.com).
The main thing is to replace the water and electrolytes that are being lost. Try Superdrug Rehydration Treatment in Blackcurrant Flavour*, £2.99, and take Imodium Instants*, £3.59, to help get you get back to your sparkly best in no time.