December 29, 2021

Bloated? 5 Tips For Managing Your Health (While Still Having Fun) This Holiday Season

You can still eat, drink and be merry with these expert tips. 

The festive season is upon us—complete with champagne mimosas, cheese boards, and more trips to the fridge for a sneaky piece of Christmas ham (with a Lindt ball chaser) than we’d planned. Don’t fret—it’s the holiday season and that’s what it’s all about. We’re not here to tell you otherwise! But if you’re starting to feel a little, well, bleh, and need a break from the merriment, we get that too. Accredited practising dietitian Georgia Houston from GH Nutrition is here to help us understand why and what we can do to give our bodies a little love.

“Christmas is usually a time where many of us over-indulge in both food and alcohol, both of which are typically high in fat and sugar,”explains Houston of why we sometimes experience painful bloating during the holidays. “These certain foods are not as easily digested by the body and can cause excessive gas, increased water retention and constipation, all of which lead to bloating.” 

It’s important to note that most of our Christmas bloating occurs from alcohol—so if you are suffering from painful symptoms, the first thing you can do is go a little lighter on those mimosas. “Alcohol is not treated like other nutrients in food,” says Houston. “In fact, our digestive system can not store alcohol and therefore works extra hard to metabolise it, prioritising the elimination of alcohol from the body ahead of all other nutrients, including fats, proteins and carbohydrates.” The side-effects of this include dehydration and increased urination, an inflammatory response by your immune system, irritation of the stomach lining and a drop in blood sugar levels. “All contributing to that “bleh” and bloating feeling,” she adds. 

Houston warns that “while some bloating over the Christmas period can be normal” be on the lookout for recurring bloating, which can be a sign of food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “If you have persistent bloating, it’s always best to discuss with your GP or an accredited practising dietitian.”

But if you think it’s more likely down to the bottle of pinot you polished off, then Houston has some helpful tips. “To help prevent bloating over the Christmas period, focus on drinking plenty of water, drinking less alcohol, eating slower and smaller portions.” If your health is your number one priority during the holiday season, Houston recommends a good guide for nutritious portions to be: “Half the plate vegetables (i.e. beautiful fresh summer salads), a quarter of the plate protein (i.e. fresh seafood/turkey) and a quarter of the plate carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice salads/sweet potato).” When it comes to alcohol, she recommends a spritzer (half wine, half soda water) as a “great refreshing and healthier alternative, reducing both alcohol and calories consumed.”

The good news is that for most of us, bloating will go away by itself as we return to normal life in early January. If you need to take things up a gear to feel more like yourself in the new year, you can give your body a helping hand by making sure you get enough fibre (Houston recommends 25g for women every day), eating a range of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. “Water as your main source of fluid can all help keep your digestive system working well.” 

Here, Houston shares her 5 golden health tips for a healthier festive season:

  1. Balance your plate – “Aiming for 1/2 the plate vegetables, 1/4 of the plate lean protein and 1/4 of the plate carbohydrates.”
  2. Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks – “Or pt for spritzers with 1/2 wine and 1/2 soda water.”
  3. Never arrive to a Christmas party hungry – “This can lead to over-eating and poorer food choices. Aim for a protein-rich snack before you arrive i.e. Greek yoghurt.” 
  4. Pick your days – “Choose 3 or 4 days (i.e. Christmas Eve/New Year’s Eve) where you will relax around food and alcohol and on the other days, eat and drink in moderation.”  
  5. Take the focus off food and alcohol – “Instead of catching up with friends over a meal, choose to get active and outdoors instead i.e. go for a walk. Remember, especially after the year we’ve all had, there is more to Christmas than food and weight! Enjoy spending time with loved ones.”
December 29, 2021

Bloated? 5 Tips For Managing Your Health (While Still Having Fun) This Holiday Season

You can still eat, drink and be merry with these expert tips. 

The festive season is upon us—complete with champagne mimosas, cheese boards, and more trips to the fridge for a sneaky piece of Christmas ham (with a Lindt ball chaser) than we’d planned. Don’t fret—it’s the holiday season and that’s what it’s all about. We’re not here to tell you otherwise! But if you’re starting to feel a little, well, bleh, and need a break from the merriment, we get that too. Accredited practising dietitian Georgia Houston from GH Nutrition is here to help us understand why and what we can do to give our bodies a little love.

“Christmas is usually a time where many of us over-indulge in both food and alcohol, both of which are typically high in fat and sugar,”explains Houston of why we sometimes experience painful bloating during the holidays. “These certain foods are not as easily digested by the body and can cause excessive gas, increased water retention and constipation, all of which lead to bloating.” 

It’s important to note that most of our Christmas bloating occurs from alcohol—so if you are suffering from painful symptoms, the first thing you can do is go a little lighter on those mimosas. “Alcohol is not treated like other nutrients in food,” says Houston. “In fact, our digestive system can not store alcohol and therefore works extra hard to metabolise it, prioritising the elimination of alcohol from the body ahead of all other nutrients, including fats, proteins and carbohydrates.” The side-effects of this include dehydration and increased urination, an inflammatory response by your immune system, irritation of the stomach lining and a drop in blood sugar levels. “All contributing to that “bleh” and bloating feeling,” she adds. 

Houston warns that “while some bloating over the Christmas period can be normal” be on the lookout for recurring bloating, which can be a sign of food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “If you have persistent bloating, it’s always best to discuss with your GP or an accredited practising dietitian.”

But if you think it’s more likely down to the bottle of pinot you polished off, then Houston has some helpful tips. “To help prevent bloating over the Christmas period, focus on drinking plenty of water, drinking less alcohol, eating slower and smaller portions.” If your health is your number one priority during the holiday season, Houston recommends a good guide for nutritious portions to be: “Half the plate vegetables (i.e. beautiful fresh summer salads), a quarter of the plate protein (i.e. fresh seafood/turkey) and a quarter of the plate carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice salads/sweet potato).” When it comes to alcohol, she recommends a spritzer (half wine, half soda water) as a “great refreshing and healthier alternative, reducing both alcohol and calories consumed.”

The good news is that for most of us, bloating will go away by itself as we return to normal life in early January. If you need to take things up a gear to feel more like yourself in the new year, you can give your body a helping hand by making sure you get enough fibre (Houston recommends 25g for women every day), eating a range of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. “Water as your main source of fluid can all help keep your digestive system working well.” 

Here, Houston shares her 5 golden health tips for a healthier festive season:

  1. Balance your plate – “Aiming for 1/2 the plate vegetables, 1/4 of the plate lean protein and 1/4 of the plate carbohydrates.”
  2. Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks – “Or pt for spritzers with 1/2 wine and 1/2 soda water.”
  3. Never arrive to a Christmas party hungry – “This can lead to over-eating and poorer food choices. Aim for a protein-rich snack before you arrive i.e. Greek yoghurt.” 
  4. Pick your days – “Choose 3 or 4 days (i.e. Christmas Eve/New Year’s Eve) where you will relax around food and alcohol and on the other days, eat and drink in moderation.”  
  5. Take the focus off food and alcohol – “Instead of catching up with friends over a meal, choose to get active and outdoors instead i.e. go for a walk. Remember, especially after the year we’ve all had, there is more to Christmas than food and weight! Enjoy spending time with loved ones.”

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