Keep digestive problems at bay

As you gear up for the holidays, it is essential to keep your eating habit as close to your normal routine as possible. If you have children, also keep a keen eye on their eating habits as the holidays are a conducive environment for overeating, ending many of the festive days uncomfortable with bloated and painful tummies.

Watch out for:

1. Overeating
When you overindulge during the festivities, you not only gain weight but also overburden your digestive system. The more you eat the more digestive juices are produced. Excess of these juices can find their way up to the oesophagus resulting in heartburn. Large meals slow down digestion making food spend more time in the digestive system which causes a gassy bloated feeling. Instead, eat smaller portions many times in a day instead of having two or three large meals.

2. Fatty and sugary foods
Fatty and sugary foods make the biggest portion of meals during the festivities. Fatty foods interfere with how food moves in the digestive track. It can either make the food move too fast causing diarrhoea or too slow causing constipation. Use other methods of cooking like grilling, steaming and boiling instead of frying all your foods.

Sugar is a favourite food for harmful bacteria found in the gut. Too much sugar creates a conducive environment for overgrowth of such bacteria which can cause indigestion, gas and acidity. To cut down on sugar, avoid fizzy drinks and minimise intake of processed foods which are often loaded with sugar.

3. Alcohol
Alcohol is a common drink during the holiday season. Even those who haven’t had a drink throughout the year treat themselves to a few drinks. Alcohol irritates the digestive system which causes the body to produce excess acid. This excess acid inflames the stomach which can cause severe pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. For those unable to cut out alcohol completely, drink at least one glass of water in between your drinks, avoid mixing with fizzy drinks but use water instead and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

4. Eating too much too often
There is a tendency of eating too much and too often before the previous meal is well digested during the festivities. This can interfere with digestion leaving you with a bloated and painful tummy. To avoid this, have small meals distributed throughout the day.

5. Dehydration
With all the tasty drinks available during the festivities, water is usually not on the menu. Sodas, artificial juices and other fizzy drinks are consumed more than water and since they are loaded with sugar they will leave you dehydrated. Dehydration gives you a hunger-like sensation that increases one’s desire to take more sugar. Avoid fizzy drinks and ensure intake of at least 2 litres of water daily. Water can also fill your stomach, taking up space that would have otherwise been filled by food.

6. Inactivity
Lack of physical activity is a common cause of digestive problems. A regular physical activity plays a major role in maintaining a healthy digestive system by provoking the movement of food through the intestines.

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Digestive problemsStomach problems