Avoid that Christmas bloated feeling!
Unless you’re a saint, most of us like to indulge a little around the holidays. No matter how healthy you are during the rest of the year, it’s hard to resist comforting dinners, sugary treats, mid-afternoon naps and extra bubbly, if that’s your tipple!
And here’s the thing: you shouldn’t necessarily have to resist those indulgences.
The occasional indulgence is healthy, after all. But when you combine the season’s fewer food inhibitions with less movement, you can end up feeling bloated and sluggish, which is never fun. So here are my practical tips for avoiding that bloated, too-full feeling around the holidays. You can still keep the season merry and bright—while feeling light—with these tips to prevent holiday bloating.
1. Drink 8 Glasses of Water Per Day
Contrary to popular belief, drinking plenty of water won’t make you bloated. What can cause bloating is dehydration. Your body retains water when it’s dehydrated, similarly to how it holds onto fat when you’re starving. Plus, being dehydrated can make you overeat because your body thinks it’s hungry when it’s really just thirsty. Be sure to drink 8 full glasses of water per day, plus an additional glass between every alcoholic beverage.
2. Go on Post-Meal Walks
One of the reasons we all feel sluggish around the holidays is because we’re not moving as much, so make a goal to take a family walk around the neighbourhood or local park after your meal. Instead of crashing on the couch after dinner, force yourself to head outside for some fresh air and healthy movement. No matter the weather, a walk after you eat can help your body digest and, yes, burn off a few of those calories. (Although the main goal here should just be to feel better in your body after eating more than you typically do!)
3. Snack on Fruit
So, with desserts aplenty during the holidays (mmm…is that a trifle I can see at the back of the fridge??) But if you’ve had your share of sweets, switch to snacking on fruit. Not only is fruit full of fibre, which makes it an easier form of sugar for your body to break down, but choices like strawberries, avocados, oranges or bananas in particular, have a higher potassium content that helps counteract bloating.
4. Eat Slow and Steady
Eating too quickly causes you to swallow air bubbles with your food, which can make you gassy. Plus, if you don’t chew your food well enough, your body can have a harder time digesting it. Eat your holiday meals mindfully, breathing in and out as you chew each delicious bite. This will help reduce those air pockets and hard-to-digest bites that can bloat your belly.
5. Chew on Fennel Seeds
Having a few fennel seeds after dinner has been a widespread tradition in India for centuries. This is because fennel seeds naturally help counteract bloating and reduce water retention. Grab a few fennel seeds after your next meal to help prevent bloating and simultaneously freshen your breath.
6. Fill Your Plate With 3-4 Things
One of the reasons our tummies get so overloaded during the holidays isn’t so much the quantity, but also the huge variety of things we’re eating. A full Scottish/English breakfast, followed by turkey rolls, a cheese platter, something from the kid’s selection box then a home-delivery curry for dinner is a recipe for digestive woes. To prevent feeling so bloated post-meal, try to resist making each meal an extravaganza! At each meal, aim to simplify and fill up on 3-4 things. Oh, and if half your plate can be veggies, that will help!
7. Don’t Skimp On Sleep
I don’t have to tell you that the holidays are a great time to catch up on zz’s, but a lot of things—overindulging in alcoholic drinks, family stress, sleeping in a different home or being on a different schedule—can compromise your sleep. If you’ll be staying at someone else’s home for the holidays, pack things that help you get that guaranteed 7-8 hours: melatonin, a sleep mask, your own pillow, whatever it is you need to sleep well and wake up bloat free.
8. Prepare Your Digestion with Probiotics
If you don’t normally take probiotics every day, prep your body by taking them daily the weeks leading up to, and during, the holidays. I’m a big fan of naturally probiotic foods, such as Greek or Activia yoghurts. Probiotics help keep your gut healthy and your digestive system working as it should, keeping bloat at bay.