Sunday Thoughts: How to keep your gut healthy during the holidays

I spent the past weekend with 1 thing on my mind: Thanksgiving.

After all, it's right around the corner. And who doesn't love Thanksgiving? You get to see loved family members, enjoy some football and most importantly, eat some great food.

But the meal does have some ups and downs.

It's a blessing to gather around a table with your loved ones. But too much feasting can leave you feeling less than joyful.

Honestly, can anything ruin a nice holiday meal more than GI upset?

Thankfully, with some careful prep ahead of time, you can fend off most post-meal stomach upset.

Now, the first thing you want to do is pace yourself.

If you've got a bunch of snacks and appetizers out before the big meal, go slow. You can enjoy a few, but not so much that you're already stuffed before you sit down for dinner.

Also, drink still water throughout the day to help dilute the food you eat.

Water can help flush out the high amount of salt that's typically in holiday foods. And it can help you avoid constipation.

Notice I said "still" water.

Carbonated water can exacerbate gas and bloating, so stick to filtered tap water for the day.

Remember to chew slowly and enjoy the conversation. That way, you can avoid filling your stomach too quickly.

When you're wrapping up the meal, consider eating a little fruit… but not just any fruit.

Fruits that are high in fiber and low in acidity are great at reducing your chance of acid reflux. Think bananas or melons.

Now if you do overindulge a little too much and have some digestive distress, don't panic. There are a few quick remedies you can try.

Like fennel seeds.

If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, you may have been offered fennel seeds on your way out.

That's because fennel seeds help relax your lower esophageal sphincter. 

And when that happens, you're able to belch a bit to relieve some of the gas and stomach pressure that's built up.

Not a fan of the taste of fennel? How about peppermint?

Like fennel, peppermint relaxes the esophageal sphincter.

So, enjoy a warm cup of peppermint tea or suck on a peppermint candy for relief.

Another thing you should do if you're feeling acid buildup is stay upright.

I know many of us feel a little sleepy after the big Thanksgiving dinner and just want to curl up on the sofa to rest.

But when you lay down, you're more likely to let food creep up into the esophagus where it can cause trouble.

Stay upright for a couple hours after your meal to help your stomach empty properly.

And if the weather is nice, you could even head outside for a walk.

Indulging in a few delicious treats is certainly appropriate for Thanksgiving.

(Lord knows I'll be dipping into some pie.)

Just take steps to ensure a few indulgences don't lead to full-on gluttony to help keep your stomach happy.

And if you do overdo it, have some fennel seeds or peppermint on hand, just in case.

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Monica - November 13, 2022

👋 Jeff!

I just read 📚 your article post about over indulging at Thanksgiving. I must admit that I have it bad when it comes to this.

Oftentimes, it is difficult not to over eat and then rest afterwards because we feel sleepy. 😴
I have laid down right after a big meal 😩 and that does not feel good at all!

I’ve improved over the years not to eat and sleep afterwards…walk it out first.

So, thank you for posting this article with these great tips and reminding us to proceed with caution before we sit down with family 👪 to feast.

Happy Thanksgiving PHA!😊 🦃
Monica P.

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