Christmas is a wonderful time for fun, families and togetherness. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Presents, parties, special memories, and (sometimes) snow. But realistically, it’s late nights, rich foods, alcohol, and family stress. The build-up may be fun, but this season can really take its toll on your gut microbiome.
Unlike you, your gut bacteria don’t have the chance to sit back and relax. Instead, they must work hard to keep you healthy, a feat that’s easier said than done, especially in December when most of us indulge in rich, nutrient-poor foods, knock back a few litres of alcohol, and stress out when we leave all the shopping to the last minute. It can also be an upsetting and stressful time for people who have lost loved ones, as memories of Christmases past invade our thoughts.
While Christmas can be a rough time for your gut, this doesn’t mean it has to be boring and you can’t enjoy yourself. As Oscar Wilde so eloquently put it, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”.
There are ways to avoid digestive and gut symptoms flaring up, gaining weight and/or the need for resolutions to ‘be good after Christmas’.
Start now by following these top tips for a healthier festive period.
- Start using the supplements in our Christmas Survival Kit. The Kit contains a pot of our Live Bacteria capsules, a pot of our natural Digestive Enzymes tablets, a pot of our Milk Thistle tablets, 6 Tummy Tea pyramids and a brochure explaining how to take the supplements. To get the most out of the Kit, start taking the supplements well in advance of the festivities. My advice is to begin taking them at least two weeks before Christmas Day to get your digestive system prepared. If you begin taking them two weeks before Christmas, they will last you through and beyond the New Year.
- Alternate your meals. One of the reasons that Christmas can be so difficult for IBS sufferers or for anyone who suffers regularly with painful bloating, constipation, or acid reflux, is the fact that regular mealtimes and our normal diet go out of the window. Instead, we may find ourselves snacking on rich foods and treats and eating at all hours of the day and night. If you can, try to stick to some sort of routine and balance out large meals and rich food with smaller, simple meals such as soup or boiled eggs. Ensure you are getting enough fibre by eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If you get bloated and gassy after meals, take one of our natural Digestive Enzymes tablets just before lunch and one just before dinner. These will help to properly digest your food, reducing the uncomfortable gassy bloating.
- Drink plenty of fluid throughout the day. Avoid caffeine as it can affect your bowels. Instead try drinking decaffeinated alternatives, tea or soft drinks. Don’t forget that caffeine is also in fizzy drinks like Coca-Cola.
- Stay hydrated if you are drinking alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your body and can also cause bloating, particularly if you are drinking champagne or sparkling wines. Go easy on the free-flowing drinks and try interspersing them with water to keep yourself well-hydrated. Take one of our Milk Thistle tablets before embarking on a session of drinking, one before bed and one with breakfast the following morning to help support your liver and minimise inflammation (hepatitis).
- The saying ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ is critical for anyone with IBS. Loads of FODMAP friendly/IBS diet recipes can still trigger symptoms, whilst other things can cause no problems. IBS symptoms are individual and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Work out what works for you, and stick with it!
- If excluding certain foods to help with your IBS symptoms is causing you stress, any potential improvement from avoiding the trigger foods is likely to be counteracted. Exclusion diets are often stressful, and stress, which is likely to be heightened at this time of year, can often provoke IBS symptoms, so find a nutritional therapist for support and advice.
- Don’t feel pressured by family and friends into eating and drinking what you don’t want to. It’s easy to feel as though you’re a party-pooper, but you’re not, you’re just wanting to stay well and happy over Christmas and New Year.
- Stay active. Don’t ignore the potential positive impact of regular exercise (the type that makes you out of breath) and a good night’s sleep.
- Make time to relax. Never underestimate the beneficial effect of deep breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) on the gut. It relaxes your gut-brain axis, can calm your gut muscles, and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system which helps you ‘rest and digest’. Start small with 2-5 minutes per day and build up from there. Doing these exercises daily is what counts.
- Stay hopeful. It’s easy for digestive and gut symptoms to really get you down, especially when you want to enjoy the seasonal festivities, but I think believing that a better day is round the corner is a big help.
- Book a colon hydrotherapy treatment. It’s a great way to prepare your stomach and gut for the festive season; it’s also the perfect way to start your New Year cleanse, so take your pick! You can find a registered and regulated therapist here: https://www.colonic-association.org and here: https://www.rictat.org.
If you have any questions about my Christmas Survival Kit or any other products, please get in touch.