How to beat the Xmas Bloat
IF you spent Christmas gorging on turkey, stuffing and mince pies, chances are you’re feeling a little sluggish.
“The Christmas period can leave you feeling bloated, stressed and tired,” explains nutritionist Kim Pearson.
Check out these age-specific ways to beat the Christmas bloat
“Alcohol and a poor diet over a few days can lead to constipation, a feeling of fullness, even low moods.”
LYNSEY HOPE has spoken to some of the UK’s top experts to reveal how you can beat the post-Christmas blues and bloat.
Check our handy age-specific guide to get yourself back on top form for 2021...
EAT WITH CHOPSTICKS: “Excited kids will often talk the whole way through a meal and this means they are swallowing air,” explains naturopath Louise Westra.
“Excess air in the tummy can make children feel very distended and uncomfortable. Try to get them to eat more mindfully once the excitement of Christmas is over. Encourage them to put their knife and fork down between mouthfuls or, for added fun, try chopsticks.”
You could switch to sweet potato fries to pack more fibre inCredit: Getty Images - Getty
HIDE THE VEG: “It can be really tough to get kids to eat veg, but persevere,” explains nutritionist Kim Pearson.
“It’s really important that children get enough fibre. If they don’t, they will become constipated and this can lead to bloating.”
"To pack more fibre in hide veg in pasta sauces or soup or switch to sweet potato fries. It’s important every day but more so after Christmas when children have indulged in treats.”
GO ON A NATURE TRAIL: “It’s normal for kids to feel downbeat after Christmas and it’s likely to be even truer this year when they can’t so easily see friends,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny.
“It’s a great idea to get them outside – maybe try a nature trail. Look around the garden and ask how many sounds they can hear, what bugs or leaves they can find. This reduces stress, boosts energy and brings them back to the present.”
Trying a natural trail reduces stress, boosts energy and brings them back to the presentCredit: Getty Images - Getty
ONE-ON-ONE TIME: “It doesn’t matter what you do, but try and spend a little one-on-one time with each of your children,” Emma adds.
“It could be building Lego or colouring together. This time can help children feel connected and safe. It also helps with side-by-side communication.
"If you are baking or colouring with a child, you are not facing them so there is no confrontation and they will open up to you a great deal more.”
HYDRATE: With mum no longer standing over them demanding they “drink some water”, teenagers are likely to forget to keep hydrated when out of normal routines over Christmas.
“But if you don’t stay hydrated, this can affect your bowel movements and if you don’t go, you’ll feel bloated,” says nutritionist Kim Pearson.
Foods with a high water content such as watermelon are good to keep hydratedCredit: Getty - Contributor
We should all aim for at least a litre and a half every day, Kim says. Foods with a high water content such as watermelon are good too.
DITCH POP: “If you enjoy a fizzy drink with your meal, it can make it harder for the food in the stomach to settle,” Kim adds.
“Avoid them, especially at mealtimes, as they are quite bloating. Trapped wind for children can be really painful.
“Rather than offering bog-standard squash or cordial, there are some lovely fruit drinks which you could offer them saying it is special. Rocks does a lovely organic squash. It’s still a treat but it won’t bloat them in the same way.”
SCREEN CUT-OFF TIME: Screen time is off-the-scale at Christmas, with many teens getting new tech gifts.
“Many studies have shown that exposure to blue light from screens can suppress the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin,” sleep expert Sammy Margo says.
Teens that are up late are likely to be ratty and lacking energyCredit: Getty Images - Getty
It means teens up late are likely to be ratty and lacking energy. Sammy recommends a tech cut-off time, at least one hour before bed, and that includes the TV.
“Get them reading or listening to an audiobook and they will snap out of their Christmas slump in no time.”
GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY: Think about giving teens or older children a little responsibility,” psychologist Emma Kenny says.
“Maybe they can help you cook dinner. Give them a task which means they go through a process and have an end product to show for it.
“It gets them out of their room, off screens and teaches them life skills. It also makes them feel part of the family and opens the lines of communication.”
DE-STRESS: “People in this age bracket are often very career driven,” explains nutritionist Kim Pearson.
“They may have families and be juggling work with family commitments, all of which can be stressful. Research has shown that stress can lead to bloating and IBS – at Christmas, and now with the stress of Covid, this is truer than ever.
Meditation can have a significant effect, even if it’s ten to 15 minutes a dayCredit: Getty Images - Getty
“Try to do something to unwind – meditation can have a significant effect, even if it’s ten to 15 minutes a day. Or maybe some simple breathing exercises or a walk outside.”
DETOX YOUR DIET: “Foods such as bread which are made with flour and water are quite gluey,” naturopath Louise Westra adds.
“That’s what wallpaper paste used to be made of so imagine how that feels in your tummy. If your intestines are clogged with it, things aren’t going to be moving as smoothly as they should and you’ll likely feel bloated.”
It could be worth trying a liver tonic too, especially after a few festive cocktails. “Medicinal herbs such as globe artichoke, dandelion root or St Mary’s Thistle can be taken as a supplement to cleanse the liver,” Louise adds.
“When people drink, fat is stored around the liver and that slows energy production. These supplements will counter that, making you feel livelier and ready for the New Year.”
HAVE A NAP: “If you have stayed up late having Zoom parties and drinking, you are going to feel the Christmas hangover,” sleep expert Sammy says. But you can counteract the damage with a few early nights.
If you go to bed late, try nappying during the dayCredit: Getty Images - Getty
"The old wives’ tale that says an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after still holds true,” Sammy says.
“We get into the deeper stages of sleep earlier in the night so if you can get more sleep in before midnight you are going to wake up with more energy and feeling more rested. If you do go to bed late, try napping during the day.”
PLAN YOUR FUTURE: “This is a hard time for many young adults who’d often be in the pub with their friends,” psychologist Emma Kenny adds.
“If you are feeling a bit low or lonely, it’s a good idea to try meditation or some deep breathing exercises to protect your mental health.
“But it’s also the perfect time to create a vision board about what they want in their world. At the moment, everyone feels a bit hopeless so think about what you can control in the next year and what steps you can take to get there. An action plan will boost your mood.”
TRY PROBIOTICS: We all need healthy bacteria in our gut and a lack of it, combined with too much “bad” bacteria, can cause bloating.
“All sorts of things can reduce levels of healthy bacteria in the stomach,” says nutritionist Kim Pearson. “Poor diet and too much alcohol are common ones over the Christmas period.”
Try a probiotic supplement to up levels of healthy bacteria in the stomachCredit: Getty Images - Getty
Up levels of healthy bacteria by eating sauerkraut, miso or fermented natural yoghurt. You could try a probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult (£9.50 for 30 capsules at boots.com).
DRINK VEGGIE WATER: Overcooked veg is soggy and not as good for you either. “All the nutrients that support our bodily functions are boiled out,” says naturopath Louise.
She recommends making a winter slaw using cabbage, grated carrot, beetroot and apple to get to your five-a-day. She adds: “Ditch onion, as that can make some people quite windy.
"Another idea is to drink the water vegetables are boiled in or add it to your gravy. Then you still benefit from those nutrients.”
LIMIT ALCOHOL: Having a few too many over Christmas is likely to leave you feeling more sluggish than normal, says sleep expert Sammy.
“Drinking alcohol prevents us from getting into the deeper stages of sleep, so after a few nights of this you are likely to wake up feeling groggy.
Listen to a song by yourself or go for a walk on your own to recharge your batteriesCredit: Getty Images - Getty
“Many of us then turn to caffeine to perk us up and you get stuck in a stimulant-sedative cycle. To avoid this, try to stop drinking for a while before you go to bed. Have a cut-off time for caffeine too.”
‘ME TIME’: “Many people in this age bracket won’t have a minute to themselves over Christmas,” says psychologist Emma.
“Now it’s over, take time away from technology and from everybody else. I like to think of it as ‘staring at the wall’ time.
“Do an activity you enjoy, whether that is gardening or dancing. Listen to a song by yourself or go for a walk on your own. It will recharge your batteries, ready for the New Year.”
CHEW YOUR FOOD: “As we age, our digestion can slow down a bit,” says nutritionist Kim Pearson.
“To help food pass through the digestive tract, there are muscles around the intestine to squeeze things through. As we age, those muscles can weaken and this may cause constipation.”
Getting outdoors and exposing yourself to daylight is a great way to reset the body clockCredit: Getty Images - Getty
Chewing your food slowly can aid digestion, Kim says, and you should add fibre to your diet. “Try whole rolled oats, prunes, pulses and lots of veg,” she says.
“Sprinkling flaxseed on your food can also be a real game-changer.”
GET OUTDOORS: Christmas can mean a lot of time indoors, this year especially.
“Seeing family, opening presents and doing the cooking can add up to time indoors,” says sleep expert Sammy.
“Sometimes this makes it hard for your body to tell the difference between day and night.
“Getting outdoors and exposing yourself to daylight is a great way to reset the body clock. If you go outside in the morning, the body knows 16 to 18 hours later it’s time to go to bed. You’ll fall asleep quicker and feel better for it.”
If you go outside in the morning, the body knows 16 to 18 hours later it’s time to go to bedCredit: Getty Images - Getty
TAKE A NAP: We have all felt like taking a nap after a big turkey dinner . . . and it could be your key to beating the Christmas fog.
“Getting into the habit of napping can give you more energy later in the day,” adds Sammy.
“The optimum time is between noon and 2pm. You might initially feel groggy when you wake up but once you get into the habit of having a daytime nap, as many cultures do, your energy levels will see a real boost.”