The holidays are a time to celebrate with family, friends and food, but the food aspect can be concerning if you have gastrointestinal problems. Read on for tips to help you handle the festivities, while enjoying the goodies that come along with it.
Know What Triggers Your Digestive Issues
You probably already know what triggers your digestive issues. For example, if you have heartburn issues, you avoid citrus fruit juices to prevent burning sensations. Make a list of food items that can wreak havoc on your digestive system as a reminder of what to avoid. If you need to, keep it handy as a “tickle” list in case you need to prompt your memory. It’s important to know what triggers your digestive issues, so you can avoid them. There’s nothing more discouraging than eating a trigger food and then having to deal with digestion problems - especially if you’re in someone else’s home. You want to spend time with loved ones, not in the bathroom or resting to recover from eating the wrong thing.
Beverages are common during the holiday festivities and by following a few simple rules, you can avoid gastric distress:
- Alcohol: Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. If you have gastrointestinal problems, drinking alcohol can trigger more discomfort. Alcohol relaxes the muscle that holds food down in your stomach, which can cause heartburn and acid reflux. Some folks have rectal pain or diarrhea after drinking liquor. If you have IBS or tend to get gassy, avoid any fizzy drinks, like champagne and beer, which can cause stomach pain, gas, and bloating. Go with less bubbly drinks.
- Skip the Caffeine: Avoid drinking caffeine, especially coffee. If you can’t avoid it altogether, keep caffeine intake at moderate levels. Caffeine can trigger diarrhea. Caffeine can also aggravate GERD-related heartburn and make you cramp more if you have IBS. Caffeine can be hidden in tasty holiday treats such as coffee-flavored or espresso-flavored candies and chocolate.
- Drink Lots of Water: Make sure to drink a lot of water; it’s essential for normal bowel function.
Find a Good Set of Healthier Ingredient Replacements for Your Favorite Dishes
You can still enjoy your favorite dishes and avoid gastrointestinal problems by replacing trigger ingredients with those that don’t.
- Instead of white, processed flour, use whole wheat flour in your baked goods.
- An easy switch is Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Swap out cheese or mayonnaise. Add a slice of avocado for tasty, creamy goodness.
- Extra-virgin olive oil is a tasty, heart-healthy substitute ingredient for butter.
Overeating, even “safe” foods, can cause gastrointestinal problems. The more you eat, the more pressure there is on the muscle that keeps digested food down. Increased pressure leads to food or acid backup, which brings on heartburn. Eating too much also slows down your digestive system, which can lead to stomach pain and constipation.
Keep Stress Levels Low
Holiday stress can make stomach pain and digestive problems that much worse. If you have IBS, stress can trigger colon spasms. Know your stressors so you can stay in control. If crowds in the mall stress you out, plan your trips when there are less people. If family gatherings bring stress, have an easy exit plan if the pressure starts building. If you’d like further information about food habits, digestive issues, or suspect gastrointestinal problems that need further testing, contact Gotham Gastroenterology. We specialize in gastroenterology, GI health, and nutritional services. Our doctors provide top-notch quality medical care and services in a professional, compassionate, and personalized setting. Call us today at 212-794-0240 or fill out the request form on this page.