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October 2012

TIPS FOR BEATING THE HOLIDAY BLOAT

By Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN (www.TamaraDuker.com), Holidays 2012
An NYC-based registered dietitian who specializes in digestive disorders and food intolerances

‘Tis the season for heavy, multi-course meals; too many fatty and sweet desserts; and one too many cocktails spent toasting the holidays.

It’s a lot for a tummy to handle all at once, and for the digestively sensitive, it can produce a state of virtually perpetual bloating from October through January.

Most attempts to remedy the side effects of too much cheer come after the fact, and may be too little, too late.  This holiday season, why not take a more proactive position in trying to prevent the bloat to begin with?  Here are my three favorite tips to help keep your belly bloat under control this holiday season.

  • Punch up your probiotic regimen by adding 1-2 doses daily of cultured, probiotic-rich dairy products to help boost the population of friendly bacteria in your digestive system. The diverse population of bacteria in your gut appear to have a hand in everything from how you metabolize sugar to manufacturing key vitamins. Lactose intolerant? That’s no longer an excuse for skipping tummy-friendly probiotic-rich dairy foods. Look for Green Valley Organics Lactose Free yogurts and kefirs, which contain Flourish – a custom blend of 10 live active probiotic cultures – instead.
  • Lower Your FODMAPs Load:  FODMAP is an acronym from the scientific names for several different types of carbohydrates that are poorly digested in some people, but rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gut. When you eat large doses of these carbs, you may find yourself feeding large populations of bacteria… who thank you for their meal by producing gas as a byproduct. Lactose, fructose, inulin fiber, and/or some of the naturally-occurring carbs found in foods like beans, onions, garlic and wheat can trigger gassiness in people with sensitive digestive systems. Since symptoms are dose dependent, lowering the FODMAP load of your daily diet may give you more leeway for the occasional indulgent holiday meal. Some easy lower-FODMAP swaps include choosing lactose-free yogurts sweetened with real cane sugar rather than conventional yogurt sweetened with high fructose corn syrup; trading your 100-calorie high-fiber bars for a 100-calorie portion of popcorn; or trying some wheat-free alternatives to your daily carb staples (e.g., oatmeal over wheat cereal, brown rice pasta over regular pasta).
  • Fall in love with Fennel: Ever notice the colorful little candied seeds on offer at Indian restaurants?  Those are candy-coated fennel seeds, tradionally used as a digestif after those gassy bean-and-cauliflower-heavy Indian meals.  Sippng on fennel tea or chewing on fennel seeds afer a larger-than-usual meal may help to prevent bloating.  Candied fennel seeds are sold in South Asian groceries; regular fennel seed or fennel tea can be found in most conventional supermarkets.