Thanksgiving is arguably the best holiday of the year. It's all about getting around a table with people you love and stuffing yourself with delicious seasonal foods and desserts. Yum.
If you're anything like me, you tend to overdo it on turkey day and end up feeling so bloated with such a large a food-baby that relatives ask when you're due.
And while Thanksgiving is certainly a time of indulgence, there are a few ways you can keep yourself in check if you want to avoid feeling so bloated you can't function until the cyber-Monday. Following a few (or all) of the tips below can help you have a bloat-free fiesta, so you can have your pie and eat it too.
Make sure you're not backed up going into the big day. This means getting your plumbing in proper order a few days before. Keep yourself well-hydrated, and eat plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Staying active can also help you stay regular, so keep up that #fitness game the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
When Thanksgiving day comes, keep the hydration game going strong. Being dehydrated encourages constipation, which can not only give you serious bloat, but also make you feel like a lethargic beached whale.
And skip the bubbly beverages—carbonation, even from plain sparkling water, can increase the amount of air in your stomach, which can bring on the bloat.
Limit The Booze
Wine and beer are not the most digestive-friendly beverages, and can contribute to gas and bloating (especially beer). Even if the relatives make you want to hit the Pinot hard, stick to a glass or two and save getting schwasty for your post-black Friday shopping celebration.
While it may seem obvious, reminding yourself to eat at a slow and steady pace can be really useful, especially on a day where it's so tempting to shovel everything in your mouth at once.
Taking mini-breaks and enjoying smaller portions at a time (instead of mowing down a loaded plate in one sitting) can help you avoid some serious bloat, and help you keep in tune with your hunger and fullness cues and avoid overeating.
When you eat a lot at once, your stomach is slammed with a big load of chewed up food, charmingly known as chyme. And because many Thanksgiving foods tend to be rich with fats, and fats are more difficult and time-consuming for the body to digest than other foods, spacing out your courses will make the whole process a bit easier on your digestive system, and be a bit less likely to give you a food baby.
You'll also be able to enjoy the food more (yay extending the delicious flavor sensations of Thanksgiving!), and actually engage in table conversations if you aren't shoveling food in your face the entire meal.
Pay Attention to Etiquette
Not only is it polite, but chewing with your mouth closed can help you avoid swallowing extra air, which can lead to bloat. Eating slowly (see above) can also help with this.
Take It Easy on Sodium
Sodium is a major culprit when it comes to bloating—it causes your body to hold onto more water, which can lead to swelling, and the subsequent need to unbutton your pants a notch or two.
Unfortunately, traditional Thanksgiving meals tend to pack a serious sodium-punch. Gravy and sauces typically contain a lot of sodium, and anything made with a bottled dressing, sauce or soup from a can is likely a salt bomb in disguise.
There are a few things you can do to cut back. Instead of bottled dressings, make your own. When it comes to casseroles that rely on canned soup, select low-sodium versions at the store. Or, instead of casseroling your veggies, try roasting them in olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt (they'll taste better that way anyways).
Most sodium you consume comes from pre-made or packaged foods and not from the shaker, so go for a dash of table salt instead of loading up on condiments like hot sauces, mustards, and bottled dressings.
Pass on Synthetic Sugars
Artificial sweeteners, particularly those made from sugar alcohols (like mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol), are not well-digested in your intestines, and attract a lot of bacteria to ferment them. Fermentation brings about gas bubbles, which can have create more gas, and therefore, more bloating.
So skip the diet soda (and all soda for that matter) and the sugar-free stuff today.
Keep Your FODMAP Intake On the Lower Side
FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols, and while they taste delicious, they can produce some pretty stinky side effects. Basically, these are substances known to cause gas, diarrhea, and bloating.
FODMAPs are small carbohydrate substances that aren't easily digested, but rather easy fermented in your intestines. Fermentation = gas, which can contribute to not only to bloating, but also to being exiled to another room (#gnarlyfarts).
FODMAPs are found in high amounts in foods like beans, onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, and fruits high in fructose—including mangos, pears, raisins and apples—and certain grains including wheat, anything with high fructose corn syrup (like regular soda), dairy and certain cheeses, and alcoholic beverages like beer and wine
While many foods high in FODMAPs are also highly nutritious, if you're looking to keep the bloat in check, simply enjoy smaller portions of these foods on turkey day (think a scoop of roasted sprouts instead of the whole pan, etc).
If You're Lactose-Intolerant, Take a Lactaid
Lactose (a natural sugar found in milk) is difficult for many to digest, and can lead to gas and bloating. Taking an over-the-counter lactase supplement (the enzyme that digests lactose) can help you break it down while you #breakitdown dancing and gettin' shwasty with your relatives.
With a few simple tips and a dose of mindfulness, you can go into Thanksgiving ready to eat and still be able to waddle home without ballooning up and floating away.
Happy Turkey Day!