Surprise! This is not a blog about giving up all your favorite holiday food. This week’s Digestive Disease Consultant’s blog is packed with easy tips on ways to enjoy some of your favorite dishes.
That’s right, we can show you how to indulge, and yet be gentle with your digestive system.
No one wants to spend their holidays in the Emergency room with a presumed heart attack. Using our special “food for thought” tips will help you avoid overs-stressing your digestive system. You see, extreme heartburn, reflux, gas, cramps and intestinal distress can manifest many of the same symptoms as cardiac arrest.
Overindulging in Holiday Food Can Make You Think You’re Having a Heart Attack
You’d be surprised at how many presumed holiday heart-attack patients turn out to be patients who have simply over-stressed their digestive systems.
Again, we do not mean we are suggesting you pick this time of year to diet. That would be so self-defeating. Even the staunchest dieters are tempted by the rich food and lavish sweets of the season.
DDC Orlando proves that without dieting, you can still avoid over-stressing your digestive system and ending up in the emergency room. This article contains almost painless tricks and tips that allow you to indulge in your favorite holiday food–just not over-indulge.
One holiday fact makes us crave mashed potatoes and gravy more than ever: The threatening fact that we are destined to gain 2 pounds or more over the holidays. It might be true, but the unwelcome threat is not a motivator. It’s easily forgotten when looking at deep dish apple crumb pie laced with caramel sauce, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. Even the most disciplined dieters give in to the temptations of holiday foods.
“The holidays are cruel to our stomachs…We pay for that overeating, ending many holiday nights — bloated, stomach roiling — with a nightcap of antacid.”
How Can Holiday Food Cause Sickness?
This year, just say “no” to over-eating. We know it’s a holiday custom to pack as much food into your stomach as possible, within a two-hour family event. Likewise, over-eating occurs when a buffet style meal is revisited repeatedly over a 3-4 hours time span. However, that customary overeating can make you very ill. We want you to know how you can enjoy the sumptuous feast of food without paying the price of an upset stomach. Here’s secret number one:
Trick Number 1: Chose a smaller plate!
In previous blogs we have told you about the LES, the lower esophageal sphincter. If you eat an extraordinary amount of food at one sitting, you add great pressure to it.
Now, the LES is the muscle that “keeps digested food down where it belongs. When the pressure is great enough, food and acid will back up, causing heartburn. Too much food can also slow down your whole digestive system, leading to stomach-ache and constipation.” Thus, even if you cannot get a smaller plate, this number one tip means controlling your portions is key to avoiding overeating.
Trick Number 2: Learn To Savor the Flavor of Food
Likewise, focus on your chewing. Enjoy the textures as well as the tastes. Savor. Go Slowly. Don’t let the excitement and energy of conversation become energy of your eating and swallowing. Smaller portions and smaller bites can save you.
Tricks Number 3 & 4: Go By the Percentages
Mentally carve out the 10-15 days that comprise your holiday feasting. Over that period of days, just try to eat consistently each day. Include three meals, fairly equal calories, except for the big family feasts or parties.
The Atkins 80—20 rule can be a revelation. It works like this: 80 percent of the time, eat healthy. But 20 percent of the time, enjoy some favorite holiday food. Now, at this point, fade into Trick Number 4.
Trick Number 4: Treat Yourself: The Selective Food Menu
It’s a matter of priorities. If you have always loved eggnog and a slice of pecan pie. You might have to pick one or the other. On the other hand, you might be surprised at how satisfying half a cup and half a slice can be.
Trick Number 5: Rich Food Brings You Sugar and Fat—Beware!
No doubt about it: Holiday food is always high sugar, but almost more dangerously in fat. Did you know fatty food slows down the digestive process? It also triggers reflux. Likewise, reflux can be caused by chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and all types of acidic foods. (Kelly A. Tappenden, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.)
Rich foods packed with fat and sugar will ruin your figure, but over indulging in them can cause serious acid reflux and damage to your esophagus. Never eat more than one piece of pie with your coffee after dinner.
Remember also that “Low-fiber holiday foods can really stop you up and lead to constipation,” according to John Clarke, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Trip Number 6: The Best Drink Accompaniment to Food: Water
We far underestimate the refreshing, satiated feeling of satisfying thirst with drinks other than juice, alcohol, soda and milk. Indulge often in water. Stay hydrated to avoid thirst that can be confused with hunger. Remember you can infuse lemons or other fruits into the water so it does not become a boring or flat taste.
Trick Number 7: Coping with Food and Holiday Stress
Avoid the Goodies and avoid the extra stress. Holiday stress can lead to overeating, which leads to more stress. It’s a terrible cycle that often manifests in upset stomach and acid reflux. “As with any addiction, distraction is often the best antidote for emotional eating.” Reporter for Every Day Health, Therese Borchard gives advice to folks who stress out on holidays.
The tensions of holiday fun, family, shopping and cleaning can become too much, and the stress can harm your digestive system just as much as the wrong food. Here’s her advice: “Let’s say you’re in the kitchen right after your neighbor has just dropped off a batch of Christmas cookies.
Flee the area! If sugar is as addictive to you as it is to me, and it makes you feel as horrible as it does me, you can’t put yourself in danger like that — not during the holidays when there’s already enough to drag you down.”
Well, we know you cannot always flee from holiday food temptations, but you can go for a walk, play with the kids, meditate or watch cat videos. Now, the more physical your distraction from food is, the better. However, whatever works for you, to keep you away from the goodies but in a good mood, we endorse it.
We hope these seven tricks help you enjoy some of your seasonal favorites and still keep your tummy from aching. Happy Holidays from the Doctors and Healthcare Professionals at DDC Orlando.