Feeling bloated and ‘blah’ post holidays? Here are my top five diet and lifestyle tips for getting your gut, and your energy back on track in 2016.
1) Cut Down on the Cocktails
Apart from being a gastric irritant, alcohol is also a depressant, which can explain the upset stomach and below average mood the day after a big night. Now that the silly season is over, make a point of thinking twice to saying yes to that glass (or second glass) of champas, or whatever your drink of choice may be.
Here’s a tip: Refill your glass of wine with sparkling water so you still feel like you’re having ‘something’; in a dim setting, no one will know the difference. Or, have a soda water with lime – looks no different to a vodka soda and will help you rehydrate.
2) Drink Peppermint Tea
An oldie but a goodie, peppermint tea can help settle your stomach when it’s feeling off, especially after one too many drinks or desserts. The perfect post-Christmas digestive, peppermint can help reduce intestinal spasm, and the sore stomach, bloating and gas that can come with it.
Peppermint tea can also cleanse the palate, so may be just what you need to kick that hankering for something sweet post-dinner – a habit we tend to develop over the holiday season.
Not a fan of hot tea in summer? Serve your peppermint tea cold over ice with a sprig of mint – We’ve been doing this with Onno Behrends Peppermint Tea at GoodnessMe Box HQ…this stuff is legit.
3) Get Some Good Bacteria Into You
That’s your probiotics, which can be beneficial if your stomach is feeling off.
Not just in a capsule, you can get probiotics from a range of nutritious, functional foods:
- Kimchi or Sauerkraut – add a spoonful to your salad, stir-fry or eggs
- Yoghurt – go for good quality varieties that are unsweetened, thick-strained or pot set. The shorter the ingredients list the better; real yoghurt won’t contain milk solids, thickeners (AKA ‘inulin’) or artificial sweeteners.
- Kefir – a traditional, fermented milk drink. Find it at the health food store.
- Wholegrains (like Whole Wheat, Barley and Rye), Onions and Garlic – These foods actually ‘prebiotics’, non-digestible carbohydrates which ferment in the gut, becoming ‘food’ for probiotics in the process and encouraging them to thrive.
4) Get Back On the Exercise Train
It’s easy to get lazy over the holidays, a habit which is also easy to take into the new year. Remember that exercise is all about habit…the less you do it, the less you want to do it. Book yourself into a class where you won’t get your money back if you bail, or schedule an exercise class, power walk, hike or run with a friend.
Whatever your thing is, exercise encourages ‘peristalsis’ – a wave of muscle contractions in your digestive tract that propels digestive food matter along – great if you’re feeling clogged up from all the holiday food you’re not used to eating.
5) Be Mindful
Inhaling your food can leave you with bloating, heartburn and reduced nutrient absorption. You’re also more likely to go back for seconds, as you’re not giving your brain time to realise that you’ve had enough and are actually full.
Break the habit of overindulging by making a point of actually chewing your food next time you catch yourself wolfing down a meal. Think about the flavours, textures and aromas of what you’re eating, as well as what it’s doing for your body.
…Whether it’s a nutritious, veggie-loaded dish or something sweet, it will taste that much better, with one serving leaving you feeling satisfied rather than stuffed.