Nutritionist Kym Lang suggests some ways to practice mindful eating this Christmas period.
While indulgent festive feasting is one of the joys associated with Christmas, it can take a toll on the tummy in all sorts of ways – most visibly, through bloating and stomach distention while, often, pain, wind and constipation will also come along for the ride.
To help you practice mindful eating this party season and avoid the negative effects of overindulgence, nutritionist Kym Lang shares her top tips:
1. Choose your drinks wisely
“Christmas is a time for celebration and raising a glass, but whether you’re drinking Champagne or a white wine spritzer, carbonated drinks can cause gas build-up and bloating. Plus, popular hangover ‘remedies’ like cola or orange juice contain caffeine or excess fructose, triggering acid reflux. To limit the effects of alcohol, ask for a bottle of tap water for the table and alternate your drinks; and choose a refreshing herbal tea like liquorice or lemon and ginger to perk you up the next day.”
2. Eat little and often
“Big festive meals overload your digestive system, potentially leading to indigestion, stomach pain and distention. To combat this, eat small meals across the day during the Christmas season and then you don’t have to miss out, or deprive yourself. You could also try ordering two starters for dinner instead of a heavy main course – like smoked salmon, or a goat’s cheese salad with cranberry sauce. Another option is to take a smaller plate to the buffet: this should help limit the amount of food you eat in one sitting.”
3. Slow down
“It’s easy to get overexcited at Christmas with delicious food and drink on tap, but if you gulp down your meal you’ll also swallow air, which can make bloating worse. Take the time to really taste your food and enjoy the experience. You’ll also likely eat less, another way to keep stomach distention under control.”
4. Get your fibre in
“Putting it bluntly, what you put in your mouth influences what comes out the other end. After too many cheese plates, mince pies or pigs in blankets, your gut will start to suffer. Opt for two square meals a day, and make sure they are packed with healthy fibre to prevent constipation. Trusty porridge for breakfast is a good low-bloat choice; and try a filling, fibre-rich lunch of roasted veg, grains and lean protein like chicken or a boiled egg. You’ll also stay fuller for longer, so you can enjoy a few indulgent canapés later without overdoing it.”
5. Go for the turkey
“If you’re trying to decide which meat to serve this year, I recommend turkey. It’s a healthy choice as it’s very lean (just avoid the skin) and high in potassium. Potassium helps control the balance of fluids in our body and counters high salt levels. So, if you’re trying to avoid water retention – but you can’t stop snacking on salted crisps and nuts – a turkey dinner is a good choice.”
6. Prep your gut
“The excesses of Christmas food and drink can wreak havoc on your gut health, resulting in digestive problems like bloating, diarrhoea and even the dreaded food poisoning. If you have a sensitive gut or IBS, be extra careful. Sachets of Enterosgel are a great addition to your medical cabinet and handbag over the festive season. It’s an organic intestinal adsorbent, which means it binds to the harmful molecules which are related to diarrhoea and bloating, and gently removes them with the stool, helping to keep your digestive system safe and happy.”