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Taking care of gut health this season

Young man in an apron preparing a Christmas turkey
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We all know Christmas is all about the food and nothing else. From mince pies to samosas on a buffet, Christmas pudding to roast turkey, there’s something for everyone. But could your festive snacks be causing you digestive upset? Read our top tips to keep indigestion at bay this festive season. Plus, we’ve got some advice on remedies and treatments for Christmas bloating, heartburn and nausea

Foods that cause indigestion

At this time of year, we may eat more than we usually do. And we might end up eating foods that don’t normally feature on our daily menus. Christmas is often filled with rich foods, sweet treats and mulled wine. So, if over the festive period you experience symptoms of indigestion including heartburn and bloating, you may want to think about the foods you’re eating.

Things that trigger indigestion at Christmas include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Rich and high fat foods including chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fried foods

We don’t want you to miss out on the festive food you love. But there are changes you can make to your Christmas dinner, and the way you eat it, which might mean it goes down a little easier.

Start being more mindful about the amount of food you’re having and how it’s cooked. For example, you could try a lighter vegetable oil on your roasties instead of goose fat. Or, waiting 10 to 20 minutes after you’ve eaten before digging into seconds. Small changes like these could help your stomach digest your food more easily, allowing you to enjoy your Christmas dinner in comfort.  

If you know you’re going to feel uncomfortable after you eat you could also make sure you’re prepared with some tablets or heartburn liquid. Our pharmacists can recommend the right treatment for you. Just make sure to always read the label.

How to get rid of Christmas indigestion

It’s not just food and drink that can cause an upset stomach at Christmas. The stress and packed schedules can leave us feeling run down and play havoc with our digestion. Make sure to delegate tasks on Christmas day and find time to relax.

Don’t let the pain of indigestion ruin your Christmas. Instead help look after your gut with our indigestion busting tips:

  • Eat your food slowly and chew properly
  • Don’t eat before bed, leave at least 3 hours between eating and sleeping
  • Eat smaller portions regularly rather than a larger meal
  • Don't lie down but remain upright after a meal 
  • Go for a walk
  • Reduce your alcohol intake especially on an empty stomach
  • Take an antacid tablet or medicine like Rennie or Gaviscon

These tips may help to reduce your symptoms. If you regularly experience heart burn or indigestion after eating speak to your GP.

Home remedies for indigestion

It’s Christmas day, you’ve just finished dinner and you feel the first discomfort of indigestion. But the shops are shut, what can you do? At LloydsPharmacy we know there’s a few things you can try to help ease painful symptoms. After eating it’s best to avoid lying down straight away. You need to give your body time to digest your dinner before heading for that Christmas day nap.

Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking water and why not try some ginger tea to help calm nausea? You could even go on a walk after your Christmas lunch. This is a great way to help your food digest. So why not get some exercise and fresh air before an afternoon of festive films, board games or whatever it is your family love doing on Christmas day.

Look after your gut all year round

Stomach and bowel health isn’t just for Christmas. You can take care of your stomach all year round by eating a healthy balanced diet and living an active lifestyle.

You may also want to:

  • Add a probiotic yoghurt to your diet
  • Choose a supplement that supports good gut bacteria like VSL3
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight. Our Weight Loss Service could help you get to your healthy weight
  • Give up smoking, check out our Stop Smoking Service for support
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Try some yoga or simple stretching
  • Stay active and walk after meals
  • Manage your stress levels

References

www.nhs.uk/conditions/indigestion/