Holiday Bloat Got You? Causes and Strategies for Relief

Holiday Bloat Got You? Causes and Strategies for Relief

With the holiday season now in our recent past, have you noticed yourself feeling bloated? Yeah, I’m talking about that unsexy lower abdominal feeling of exploding through your skinny jeans. It’s no surprise that with all the holiday feasting that many of us have just participated in, our stomachs are calling out for some love and support. But what causes bloating and what can you do about it? In this blog post, we'll discuss the common causes of holiday bloat and provide you with strategies to manage and alleviate that post-holiday discomfort.

What causes bloating?

Bloating can be caused by several factors and varies from person to person. For some, food insensitivities can cause the uncomfortable abdominal tightness, while for others, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could be the cause. Below we discuss the likely diet-based causes of bloat. 

  1. Overindulgence in Rich Foods: Remember that extra piece of cake or all those short-bread cookies? During the holidays, it's easy to get carried away with decadent meals and treats. Indulging in rich, high-fat foods can slow down digestion and lead to feelings of bloating and discomfort
  2. Excessive Salt Intake: Remember that Netflix docuseries Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat? That show taught me that behind every delicious dish, is the right balance of flavours (which necessarily includes the use of salt). I’m guilty of having a more liberal hand with my seasoning over the holidays. Can you really blame the host or caterer for wanting their food to taste well-seasoned? Needless to say, often the likely culprit of holiday bloat is excessive salt intake! Consuming too much salt can contribute to water retention, making you feel bloated. 
  3. Carbonated Drinks: Cheers! The festive season often involves toasting with carbonated beverages. The bubbles in these drinks can introduce extra air into your digestive system, leading to bloating.
  4. Irregular Eating Patterns: Holiday schedules can disrupt regular eating habits, leading to irregular meal times and larger-than-usual portions. This can strain your digestive system and contribute to bloating.
  5. Sweet Treats and Sugar Overload: Desserts and sweet treats are abundant during the holidays. Excessive sugar intake can alter the balance of gut bacteria and contribute to bloating.

What can you do about it? 

Now that we’ve identified the main diet-based causes of holiday bloat, we’ll share six tips for taming that bloat!

Tip 1: Stay Hydrated

This tip actually tackles two issues. The first is holiday bloat, and the second is the reality that many of us struggle to stay hydrated during the winter months. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out excess salt from your system and supports overall digestion. Consider sipping on herbal teas or infused water with mint or ginger for added digestive benefits. 

Tip 2: Incorporate Gut-Friendly Foods:

After that two week war on all those healthy bacteria living in our guts, try introducing gut-friendly food options to rebalance. Consider dishes with probiotics like yogurt or fermented foods, which can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Tip 3: Embrace Low FODMAP Options:

Low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diets are designed to minimize foods that can contribute to bloating and digestive discomfort. Consider incorporating low FODMAP ingredients like rice, lean proteins, and certain vegetables into your meals.

Tip 4: Mindful Eating:

Pay attention to portion sizes and eat slowly to allow your body to signal when it's full. Mindful eating can help prevent overindulgence and promote comfortable digestion.

Tip 5: Gentle Exercise:

Engaging in light physical activity, such as a leisurely walk, can aid digestion and alleviate bloating. 

Tip 6: Herbal Remedies:

Some herbs, like peppermint and ginger, have been traditionally used to ease digestive discomfort. Consider incorporating these herbs into your meals or enjoying them as teas.

As we bid farewell to the holiday season, let’s take our moment to assess how our bodies are feeling. If you’re feeling that discomfort that I’m feeling from holiday bloat, try out some of our tips. It's essential to be mindful of our digestive health. By understanding the causes of holiday bloat and adopting practical strategies, we hope you’ll be able to navigate the post-celebratory discomfort and start the new year feeling refreshed and revitalized. Remember, moderation, hydration, and gut-friendly foods are your friends! 

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