• Aine Boyle

My Top Tips to Beat the Christmas Belly Bloat


We’re all prone to a little indulgence at Christmas (yes, even me), but rich food and overeating can play havoc with your digestion, leaving you feeling bloated and uncomfortable for months to come. There are a variety of reasons why the holidays create more tummy troubles than the rest of the year:

· You often eat more than you usually would, putting pressure on the digestive system.

· You might be drinking a lot more when you eat – whether it’s prosecco at a party or red wine on Christmas Day – and this dilutes stomach acid, making it harder to properly digest your food.

· More rich, creamy foods than you’re used to can trigger heartburn or reflux or else make uncomfortable digestive symptoms worse.

Though festive food and drink can be tough on the digestive system, it doesn’t have to be this way. Just follow my expert tips to trouble-proof your tummy this Christmas.


USE YOUR SENSES

The first step in the digestive process is often overlooked, but it’s a really important one. Known as the cephalic phase, it’s triggered when you see or smell food. You are literally whetting your appetite. When you start thinking about the lovely meal you are going to prepare, you are getting your digestive juices flowing.

It may sound an incredibly simple step – and it is – but these days we are often so busy that we don’t make the time to think about our food in this way. If you find you’re always eating on the go, throwing a sandwich down your neck at your desk or having a TV dinner TV, this is a vital step you are missing out on. One trick is to be mindful and try and spend a few minutes thinking about your tasty lunch before you eat it to get the digestive juices going.


CHEW YOUR FOOD

Remember what Mum used to say? Well, she was right! Chewing your food (the second phase of digestion) is key when it comes to good gut health. With proper chewing, you are mechanically breaking down the food into smaller pieces which leads to easier digestion.

Not chewing also means the food you eat takes much longer to break down, and, as it hangs around in your digestive system, it can start to ferment, causing uncomfortable wind, gas and bloating (yes, we have all been there)!

Don’t worry about chewing a certain number of times – that all depends on what you are eating and various other factors. Instead try this test: chew your food enough so that if someone asked you to spit it out, they wouldn’t know what you had been eating.


BALANCE YOUR STOMACH ACID