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The Best 4 Ways To Feel Less Bloated After Big Holiday Meals

Feel Less Bloated: Holiday feasting can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Experts share ways to ease your stomach discomfort this holiday season.

Feel Less Bloated, Knowing your triggers, swapping foods, and limiting alcohol can all help make holiday meals more pleasant.

A full and heavy belly can mean great things were just consumed, but it can also mean uncomfortable things are about to happen.

For many Americans, that feeling is just par for the course during holiday celebrations.

Feel Less Bloated, According to research from the Calorie Control Council, a typical Thanksgiving dinner is packed with over 3,000 calories. That’s almost double the recommended calorie intake for adult women based on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

And stomachs can only hold so much food before they hit their capacity.

Feel Less Bloated, For instance, on average, an adult’s stomach is similar in size to a clenched fist. It can hold about 2.5 ounces if it’s empty and expand to hold around 1 quart.

As you fill your stomach up to its capacity, doing so can cause discomfort, including indigestion and even nausea.

To help banish that overfed, lethargic, bloated feeling, nutrition experts say the following 4 tips can help reduce intestinal discomfort during the holiday season.

1. Recognize your triggers

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Feel Less Bloated, As a guest of a party, you might find yourself at the mercy of what the host is serving, which can mean you might not know exactly what ingredients they are using to prepare their food.

However, knowing ahead of time what ingredients trigger discomfort can help eliminate bloat.

“Whether it’s dairy, gluten, or some other food, being aware of food intolerances and other triggers is important so you can avoid or limit them in order to prevent digestive issues like bloating,” Michael Hartman, PhD, nutrition expert.

Feel Less Bloated, He suggested asking the host before the party what they intend on serving and what ingredients are in the food.

“The last thing they want is for you to feel unwell,” said Hartman.

Feel Less Bloated, To identify foods that trigger bloat, Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietitian and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, recommended keeping a daily food record and looking for patterns.

“It is best to track the food you eat, the portions, the timing, emotions at the time (happy, stressed, etc.) as well as any symptoms you feel. “This can allow you to look for patterns to identify foods that may cause bloat as well as help you to see if other factors such as stress may be aggravating your symptoms.”

2. Don’t save calories for the party

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Feel Less Bloated, Eating consistently throughout the day can help keep you from over-eating at the party.

“Waiting too long in-between meals until you are ravenous can often lead to eating too fast and too much, which can trigger an increase in bloating,” said Palinski-Wade.

Feel Less Bloated, Instead of “saving” all your calories for a big meal, she said to eat consistent meals and snacks to support digestion throughout the day.

“Watch out for foods that may trigger bloat, such as large amounts of cruciferous vegetables at one sitting, eating more fiber than you generally would without building up, or eating meals with large amounts of fats, sodium, and added sugar,” she said.

3. Make food swaps

Make food swaps

Feel Less Bloated, Whether you’re the host or know what the host will be serving at the party, you can provide alternative options to choose from.

“If you’re trying to build a healthy relationship with food, there are simple healthy holiday food swaps you can make,” said Hartman.

Feel Less Bloated, For instance, if dairy-filled cheese balls and crackers are a typical appetizer at your holiday dinner table, he said to try mixing it up this year with hummus, pita, and fresh veggies.

Instead of buttery mashed potatoes, consider switching to a sweet potato alternative.

“And, rather than going for a rice dish that’s high in starch, reach for legumes which are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps flush out excess bloat-causing sodium,” Hartman said.

Feel Less Bloated, Palinski-Wade suggested using milk in replacement of heavy cream to cut the fat in recipes and reduce large amounts of salt by using flavorful spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

If swapping feels overwhelming or like too much work, she said to stick to eating in moderation. Her favorite strategy for doing this at holiday meals is to review all food offerings first before adding them to her plate.

Feel Less Bloated, “Then build a balanced plate filling 1/3 with produce, 1/3 with lean protein, and the remaining 1/3 with any favorite side dishes,” she said. “This allows you to enjoy all the offerings without overdoing it, which can help reduce bloat.”

4. Add leafy greens to your plate

Add leafy greens to your plate

Feel Less Bloated, Vegetables like spinach, kale, bok choy, asparagus, and chard have a high-water content and are also low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. “[They] work well to reduce bloating,” said Hartman.

While eating vegetables regularly is a great way to add fiber to the diet, Palinski-Wade cautioned that increasing fiber gradually is the best way to promote healthy bowel movements and reduce bloat.

“If you increase your vegetable intake quickly without adjusting to an added fiber intake, this may result in more bloat,” she said. “Also, if you do not increase your water intake as you increase fiber, this can lead to bloat and constipation as well.”

Feel Less Bloated, She recommended adding an extra half cup of leafy greens every 3 days to slowly increase your intake to improve digestion without the bloat.

Feel Less Bloated, “Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can cause more gas as well, so these are often best to enjoy cooked versus raw to lessen the impact on bloat,” said Palinski-Wade.

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