Are you hoping to make it out of the holiday season without feeling stuffed like a turkey or passing for Santa? For those of us who struggle with belly bloat, but don’t want to miss out on the traditions and treats that make the holidays special, that might seem like a tall order. But, with some careful planning and healthy habits in place, we can enjoy the holidays and not have to worry about that uncomfortable belly bloat, too.
Why Should We Care About Belly Bloat?
Fixing belly bloat is not just for those hoping for a slimmer figure. Belly bloat is a sign of poor digestion and/or that the digestive system is overloaded and needs a reset. When left unmanaged, regular bouts of belly bloat can lead to increased systemic inflammation, microbial overgrowth, chronic digestive problems, and an overall feeling of poor health. Thankfully, treating belly bloat from the root can prevent all of these issues and help you live a healthier, more comfortable life. But how?
It all comes down to gut health. Our gut health is one of the most important determining factors in our overall health. Not only does it affect how well well our digestive system functions, but it also sets the foundation for the health of all the cells of our body. With this power, the gut has a direct impact on our brain health, mood and emotional balance, metabolism, hormone balance, sleep patterns, skin health, reproductive health, and more.
Like a bogged moat, bloating in our belly shows that the whole system is off-balance, weakened, or overloaded. And as a result, all our other systems suffer. In addition to bloating, here are a few other signs your gut health needs some care:
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Brain fog
- Anxiety, mood swings, and depression
- Stubborn weight gain
- Skin conditions and breakouts
- Sleep disturbances
What Causes Belly Bloat?
Belly bloat happens for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at a few other reasons we might experience bloating:
You’re eating gas-producing foods.
Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s easy to digest. Some people have trouble digesting vegetables like broccoli, onions, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, and beans. Try cutting down on these and replacing them with other fresh fruits and vegetables.
You’re swallowing too much air.
It may seem silly, but swallowing air might be contributing to your bloat. This happens when we eat and talk at the same time, slouch while eating our meals, drink carbonated beverages, and chew gum.
You have a food intolerance.
Not all foods sit well with our bellies. For some people, certain foods or types of food may cause inflammation or weakness in the gut. This leads to gas production in response to the offending food, trapped gases, and poor bowel function. Some of the most common foods that cause these issues include wheat and dairy.
Bloating and constipation go hand in hand, so if you aren’t “regular” it might be contributing to your belly bloat. Some common remedies that help encourage healthy bowel function include eating more fiber, drinking more water or herbal tea, and increasing your activity level with 20-minute walks throughout the day. But sometimes constipation can point to bigger issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and eating fiber can actually make it worse. If you struggle with staying on schedule, reach out to an AlignLife Chiropractor, and they can help you with a more targeted approach to your gut health. They can also order laboratory testing that will help identify if the root cause of your issue is intestinal conditions such as IBS/SIBO.
You have an underlying issue.
Poor digestion and/or digestive conditions such as low stomach acid and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) — also known as small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) — can also cause you to feel bloated and constipated. When foods such as proteins sit undigested in your stomach and small intestine, they don’t break down properly. Instead, they feed microbes that produce gases, like methane, that are known to cause constipation. If left unchecked, this can lead to IBS/SIBO when microbial populations become significant in the upper GI.
One way we recommend optimizing your digestion is to take Aceva’s Gastro Plus. This dietary supplement includes digestive enzymes and betaine HCL that work to effectively break down food in the digestive system. To further help you bring the microbial balance in your GI tract back in check and get rid of constipation, we also recommend Candeva, an herbal antibiotic, and Ultrabiotic, a comprehensive probiotic that works to restore the healthy bacteria in your gut. Both are available from Aceva. Celiac disease and endometriosis can also cause unwanted bloating.
While there are several things that can cause bloating, overindulging in foods that are rich, stodgy, sugary, or otherwise difficult to digest is the most common cause – especially around the holidays. Let’s learn more about how we can keep our holiday eating under control and our bellies happy.
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7 Tips to Avoid Belly Bloat During the Holidays
The best way to beat belly bloat is to stop it from happening in the first place. This may seem impossible with the promise of holiday treats and temptations, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday season while keeping your gut health in check.
#1: Avoid the biggest culprits.
We can’t prevent bloating without giving up a few foods that cause the issue. These tend to be either foods that cause sensitivities (like gluten or dairy), foods that cause gas (like broccoli and cabbage), or foods that are generally hard on your digestive system (greasy, sugary, processed foods). Here are is a list of the main foods you’ll want to ditch if you hope to beat the bloat this holiday season:
- Beans and Lentils
- Broccoli and cruciferous vegetables
- Barley and rye
- Onions and garlic (especially raw)
- Apples and pears
- Carbonated drinks, especially beer
- Sugar alcohols (like xylitol)
- Fried and processed foods
- Any food you have a sensitivity to
#2: Eat bloat-busting foods.
Since you’ll be eliminating foods that cause bloat from your diet, let’s replace them with delicious foods that work to prevent bloating. These tend to be foods that are easy-to-digest, rich in nutrients, and supportive of the gut. Take charge of the holiday menu and dig into more of these foods this year:
Proteins and vegetables over carbs
Carbs like bread, barley, and rye are found in nearly every holiday meal, but they are major bloat culprits. Instead, focus your holiday spreads and fill your plate up with more fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.
Probiotics are one of the best ways to take care of your gut. They support your gut’s microbiome (the good bacteria) and help make easy work of digestion. Probiotics also help to repair the gut and make gut health issues (like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and gas) a thing of the past. Enjoy foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and natural greek yogurt, while also supplementing with a daily probiotic.
Aromatic herbs, spices, and enzymatic produce
Just like the smell of a vibrant lemon or peppermint oil clears the fog in our heads, aromatic herbs and spices do the same to our gut. The compounds and enzymes in foods like ginger, cinnamon, fennel, mint, citrus fruits, pineapple, and chilies can help to clear out stagnant food and gas from the digestive system.
#3: Eat fresh.
Many of the best anti-bloat foods are simply those vibrant and colorful fresh fruits and vegetables we know and love. Feel free to indulge in these this season:
- Celery root
- Sweet potato
- Canned pumpkin
- Butternut squash
- Pomegranate seeds
#4: Limit salt intake.
Salt is one of our biggest bloating culprits, mostly because the more salt we consume, the more water our body holds on to in order to keep our electrolytes balanced. Reducing salt is helpful to reduce excess water weight, while also staying heart-healthy.
#5: Fill up on fiber.
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy gut as it helps keep food moving through the digestive tract regularly. But too much fiber, or an abrupt shift in the amount of fiber you consume, could increase bloating temporarily. Increase your fiber intake gradually to find your “fiber tolerance” using as many whole foods like fresh vegetables as possible to reap the benefits but skip the extra bloat.
#6: Sip and savor.
The holidays should be a time to sit back and relax. While you’re dining this holiday season, take care to eat slowly and truly enjoy the moment and the delicious food before you. Eating quickly, chugging beverages, not chewing enough, or talking while eating can cause you to swallow large amounts of air, which then leads to bloating and gas. So, take a moment to savor every bite this season, slowly and with gratitude!
#7: Skip the bubbles.
Celebrate the season, but skip the champagne. Any carbonated beverage (including soda, beer, and sparkling wines) adds extra air to your gut and causes bloating. If you’d still like to toast to the holidays, choose non-carbonated cocktails, red wine, or tried-and-true water.
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Top Ways to Reduce and Recover from Belly Bloat
Following these healthy rules during the holidays doesn’t always work out as planned. But that’s okay – we can be prepared with some simple damage-control tips for when the bloating hits. Here’s what you can do to reduce belly bloat if you overdo it:
Make a cup of tea.
Herbal tea can make a big difference in belly bloat. Choose a digestive blend or anything that contains fennel, cinnamon, or peppermint as these are powerful herbs to clear away bloating. Or, simply steep a few slices of fresh ginger in hot water for fresh ginger tea.
Go for a walk.
When you’re bloated, moving is the last thing you want to do. But a brisk walk around the neighborhood can give your body the momentum it needs to clear out the bloat. Just be sure to go at least an hour after your meal to give your body time to digest first.
Remember your probiotics.
A bloated belly needs a little extra help. Be sure to take your daily dose of Ultrabiotic to help your gut recover.
Try a belly massage.
If gas and constipation are at the root of your bloating, a gentle self-massage can help get things moving. Follow the natural clockwise path of the intestines, starting at the lower right portion of your abdomen and slowly massaging up to the level of the ribs. Move horizontally along the upper abdomen, then down the left side.
Make a plan for tomorrow.
Sometimes we just have to accept our bloat and make better choices the next day. Before you head to bed, make a meal plan for the next day that is full of anti-bloating foods and snacks so you won’t be tempted to make the same mistakes. Set a water-drinking goal and plan for at least 30 minutes of exercise to reset your system.
Take a Supplement to Reduce Belly Bloat
A healthy gut is essential for increased immune function, proper nutrient absorption, and optimal digestion. But when it’s not functioning right, we all know that out-of-sorts feeling. Enter Gut Reactions. This digestive trio is recommended by AlignLife Chiropractors and includes Ultrabiotic, Candeva, and Gastro Plus. The trio is designed to give you long-term relief from bloating, gas, cramping, constipation, and gastric reflux. Grab the bundle from Aceva and experience how these great products work together to improve your gut health.
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Have a Happier Holiday Season Without Belly Bloat!
The holidays feel merrier when we feel like ourselves. Unfortunately, bloating can rob that joy from us, making us feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, and generally “blah.” Beat the bloat this holiday season by taking these precautionary steps to avoid belly bloat – or at least reduce the bloat if you do give in to temptation!
Are you looking for more support on how to stay healthy through the holidays? Our AlignLife Chiropractors are here to help. With chiropractic care, diet, and lifestyle guidance, you’ll be able to not only beat the bloat but start the new year as a brand new you. Reach out to your local AlignLife Chiropractor today to get started!