The holidays are hard on our stomachs –
from the Halloween candy to the turkey and gravy to one-too-many glasses of
champagne. And while it’s fun at the time, we often pay for all the overeating not
only with weight gain, but also bloated stomachs, heartburn, and gas.
This year, break the holiday tradition of
an upset stomach. Below are several reasons why the holiday season can wreak havoc
on your stomach, and some remedies to help alleviate the tummy troubles.
How the Holidays Make Us Sick
- Large portions. Quite simply, the more food you put into
your stomach, the more pressure on your esophageal sphincter, the muscle that
keeps digested food down where it belongs. When the pressure is great enough,
food and acid will back up, causing heartburn. Too much food can also slow
down your whole digestive system, leading to stomachaches and constipation.
- Rich foods. Holiday foods are generally high in sugar
and fat. Both cause weight gain and can trigger upset stomach. Fat also
slows down the digestion and can trigger acid reflux. Some foods known to cause
reflux include chocolate, coffee, alcohol, mints, and acidic foods.
- Lack of fiber. Most holiday foods contain very little
fiber, which over time, leads to constipation.
Further, fiber makes you feel full, so you may tend to eat more when
consuming low-fiber foods.
- Holiday stress. Stress -- triggered by shopping lists,
cooking, cleaning, travel, and family in general -- can cause upset stomach
and heartburn. Further, many people cope with stress by overeating and
drinking too much.
How to Remedy
Your Tummy Troubles
- Chew your food slowly. The slower we eat, the less chance we will
overeat, since our stomach has time to fill up and signal to our brain that we
are full. Plus, chewing your food longer makes it easier to digest.
- Drink a little liquid with your meals to help keep things moving but try not to
fill up too much on liquid (especially alcohol!). Waterlogging your stomach can
put excessive pressure on the lower intestine and slow down digestion. If
you are consuming water or tea, it should be room temperature to improve
- Try a spice. Cayenne (sprinkle a
little on your food) and ginger (drink freshly grated ginger tea thirty minutes
after your meal) can help increase stomach emptying if you are feeling bloated in
that region. Also, a small sprinkle of salt can help with stomach acid
production (just don’t overdo it!)
- Go for a walk. One of the best ways to aid digestion is to
move (the worst thing you can do after a big meal is sit down for a long period
of time!) Further, regular exercise during the holidays, even walking thirty
minutes a few hours after a meal, can help increase motility and lessen