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Tips for Digestive Health During the Holidays

Tips for Digestive Health During the Holidays

Dec 19 2016

The 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 season:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 portions.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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