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Have a happy, bloat-free Christmas – here’s how

Have a happy, bloat-free Christmas – here’s how

Have a happy, bloat-free Christmas – here’s how

There’s a lot to love about Christmas – time with the family, drinks with friends and all the delicious food in between. The key is balancing this to avoid overindulging and the dreaded Christmas bloat, while still enjoying the festive season.

There are several factors that can cause bloating, from excessive gas, to increased water in the small intestine. Throughout the silly season, we tend to increase alcohol consumption, eat foods that are higher in sugar and fat content, while also engaging in frequent sedentary behaviour. These choices ultimately slow gut digestion and can cause uncomfortable bloating.

Leading dietitian and author Sharon Natoli from Food & Nutrition Australia says, “It is hard to say no when you are surrounded by so many delicious options, but the key is to make conscious, smart choices to survive the silly season in full health. The biggest factor in avoiding weight gain and bloating over Christmas is to enjoy foods like Christmas puddings, cakes, fried finger foods and creamy dips in small portions. Strike a balance by including high protein options that leave you feeling fuller for longer – such as fish, nuts, yoghurt and eggs. Eggs are a very versatile ingredient so there are plenty of Christmas recipes that utilise the highly nutritious staple. Try and add eggs to colourful Christmas salads, include peeled and quartered eggs as a finger food, or opt for eggs at breakfast to keep you going until lunch.”

We are more prone to bloating around Christmas and throughout the holiday period, because of the amount we eat and the food choices we make. Research finds that the most effective way to reduce bloating is to avoid excessive intakes of certain foods, rather than eating specific foods to minimise the effects. So make a conscious effort to keep including fibre rich foods, like veggies, fruit and whole grains, and complementing these with foods high in protein like eggs, milk, yoghurt, fish, legumes and nuts. Eggs are a good option to incorporate into your diet every day, containing over 11 different vitamins and nutrients. A single serve of eggs will contribute to a high proportion of your recommended daily intake of protein, therefore helping to keep you feeling full.  

Dietitian Sharon Natoli shares her tips to enjoy the holiday season, while avoiding the dreaded bloat:

  • Slow down – it’s not just what you eat but how you eat. Eat slowly with your mouth closed to avoid gulping down air with your food, and make sure you chew each mouthful thoroughly
  • Clever swaps – There are several swaps you can make to increase nutrition and reduce the risk of over-indulging. Bolster your Christmas lunch or dinner with fresh, colourful salads
  • Drink plenty of water. Approximately 2 litres per day for women, and 2.5 litres per day for men
  • If you have trouble reaching your water intake targets, try peppermint tea, green tea or herbal and fruit teas
  • Limit intake of sugary soft drinks and alcohol 
  • Keep moving – avoid sitting for long periods of time and include physical activity in your agenda. Involve the family in a physical activity such as backyard cricket, a swim in the pool or a long walk outside
  • Relax – family get-togethers and the planning and preparations surrounding Christmas can sometimes be quite stressful. Prepare ahead of time, getting as much done before it gets busy – and opt for easy to make recipes. Stress is another important factor that can contribute to bloating and other gut symptoms so try and keep this in check.
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