Holiday Tummy Trouble

The holidays are all about being happy and having fun… but they can also be full of heartburn, constipation, upset stomachs, and other digestive disorders.

Even if you have a healthy digestion most of the time, the combination of rich food, alcohol, and stress can make you feel queasy. If you have gastrointestinal issues to begin with, they can really interfere with your enjoyment of the season.

Here are some tips to take care of your digestion this holiday season — so you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.

  • Everywhere you turn at this time of year, there are treats and temptations. You’ll feel better if you don’t overeat, so do a little planning. If the break room at work is always filled with fudge and cookies, bring a dish of grapes or cut up veggies as your contribution. When you get to a party with a lavish buffet, look at everything and prioritize. You can have your favorite things without going overboard.
  • Holiday food tends to be low in fiber and water, but high in fat and sugar. That can lead to indigestion, constipation, and other discomforts. Fill half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, one fourth with lean protein, and add your favorite holiday treats to the last quarter of the plate.
  • Notice we’re saying favorites? You can have potato chips any time of year, so skip them now and enjoy the latkes or mince pie.
  • Be aware of food sensitivities and food allergies. If you’re the host, think about labeling food “contains nuts” or “gluten free” so your guests don’t have to ask. If you’re the guest, cheerfully eat what you can but don’t take chances.
  • The holidays can be stressful for many reasons, and stress can show up in digestive discomfort. Build some relaxation into your schedule.
  • Keep moving! Regular exercise aids your digestion and helps with stress, too.
  • Alcohol can play havoc with your digestion. Alternate cocktails or beers with water to stay hydrated, pace yourself, and practice moderation. Feeling a little delicate the day after a party? Have a banana, yogurt, or oatmeal — something bland and light. Drink plenty of water and enjoy a walk in the fresh air.
  • Sleep on an empty stomach. That doesn’t mean you have to go to bed hungry — just avoid eating in the evening so your body doesn’t have to try to digest food and sleep at the same time.
  • Schedule a colonoscopy during the winter break if you need one. It’s easier than trying to fit it in with your work schedule.

Questions? MANA’s gastroenterologists can help. Ask a question in the comments or make an appointment.