holiday season can be the most stressful time of the year, and unfortunately it
can also be the most indulgent. The combination of high anxiety and unhealthy
eating is a harmful combination. Stress tends to slow the digestive process,
increasing the chances of heartburn, indigestion, constipation and significant
weight gain, among others. Instead of popping an
antacid or loosening your belt and moving on to the next plate of food, there
are some healthier options to keep your digestive health in check this holiday
- Know Your Body - Certain foods
and stress can trigger digestive distress in anyone, but everyone’s body will
react to triggers differently. If you know that eating chocolate cake is going
to leave you with serious heartburn, avoid it. If too many holiday functions
are stressing you out and creating stomach problems, graciously bow out. Know
your triggers and do your best to steer clear of them.
- Eat More Fiber - Most holiday meals lack one very important nutrient – fiber.
Without fiber, digestive systems slow down, causing constipation. Fill up on
fiber-rich fruits and veggies like pears, greens and broccoli every day to keep
your system staying regular.
- Slow Down When You Eat - Pace yourself when you eat, and try to set your fork down
between bites. Eating too much too fast can slow down digestion and lead to
constipation and stomach pain. Slowing down will also help you control your
- Exercise -Participating in regular exercise can keep your digestive system running
smoothly. During the holidays, keep up your exercise routine as best you can.
After eating a heavy meal, avoid reclining and take a walk instead. Lying down
will only exacerbate heartburn as stomach acids can travel up the esophagus
more easily. Exercise will also aid in digestion, but avoid a strenuous workout
after a heavy meal as it can actually slow down digestion.
- Relieve stress - Take some “me time.” Maintaining an exercise routine and
practicing deep breathing relaxation techniques can do wonders for mental and
digestive health, and help alleviate stress’ negative effects on the digestive
system, such as gas, acid reflux and stomach cramps.
- Maintain a sleep routine - Get an adequate night’s rest of at least eight hours nightly.
Your body and gut like predictability. Plus, staying up late could make you
more likely to visit the fridge and eat that piece of chocolate cake that’ll
lead to an upset stomach.
- Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine - Alcohol can trigger stomach aches, gas and bloating in people who
already experience digestive trouble. That’s because alcohol relaxes the muscle
that keeps food in the stomach, causing heartburn. Caffeine produces acid,
which causes reflux.