During the holiday season, many people will over-indulge on available treats. This can lead to several gastrointestinal (GI) issues including heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation – not to mention unwanted weight gain. However there are some tips to help keep your GI system healthy while still enjoying your favorite holiday snacks.
Eat small portions
Eating too much food is an easy way to trigger heartburn. When you eat larger portions, the excess food puts pressure on the muscle that keeps your food down. If this pressure gets to be too much, the food and acid will back up, and heartburn occurs. Try eating smaller portions of your favorite dishes.
Take into consideration the richness of holiday foods
Remember – most holiday foods are high in sugar and fat. This means they not only can cause weight gain, but that excess weight can trigger upset stomachs. A buildup of fat in the body can slow the digestive system and trigger reflux. Other rich foods that can trigger reflux include chocolate, coffee, alcohol and mints – all holiday favorites. While it is OK to enjoy a few of these treats, eating a lot of these rich foods (especially in a short amount of time) could prove problematic for your GI system. Do your best to reduce holiday stress
Stress is unavoidable at the holidays. And too much stress can lead to an upset stomach or heartburn. Do your best to manage your stress and keep it at manageable levels like taking a walk, exercising, etc.
Eat slowly while enjoying holiday meals
When you eat slowly, it allows the stomach time to empty better and suppresses your appetite, which can help prevent overeating.
To keep your digestive track active and to help avoid heartburn and acid reflux, try to stay moving after eating a holiday meal, opposed to going and sitting or lying down on the couch. Not only does it help keep your digestive tract moving, it also helps combat unwanted weight gain.
Most GI issues a patient will experience during the holidays can be treated with over-the-counter medicine and are nothing to worry about. However if an issue is recurring, persists, or gets worse, an appointment should be made with a gastroenterologist. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Lexington Clinic Gastroenterology today, please call (859) 258-4950 or visit LexingtonClinic.com/gastro.
Matthew Ashmun, MD is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine. He provides a wide-range of services in diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy.
Lexington Clinic is Central Kentucky's largest and oldest medical group. We have more than 200 providers in more than 30 specialties taking care of 600,000+ patients in the Lexington community since 1920.