From sipping mulled wine and boozy office parties, to festive feasts with friends and family, I’m often asked how you can manage your gut symptoms over the holidays, when your social calendar makes it pretty tricky.
Well you absolutely shouldn’t have to miss out – this is not a time for restriction, so try not to stress about indulging a little more!
Here are my top tips to get your festive buzz back
1. Take it easy on the drinks
Alcohol can leave our guts (and minds!) a little frazzled, because too much alcohol increases the ‘leakiness’ of the gut in the short term and affects how it moves, which can lead to tummy symptoms in those with sensitive guts.
TIP: If you’re on the vino, try topping it up with soda water for hydration without feeling like you’re missing out. Or if you’re up for going alcohol-free, try a non-alcoholic cocktail or kombucha.
2. Avoid skipping meals
It may seem harmless, but an irregular eating pattern may do more harm than good, especially if you’re prone to gut issues. That’s because when we skip meals, we’re more likely to overindulge at the next meal – adding a large load of food into our stomach that can trigger things like bloating, tummy pain and diarrhoea for some. None of which you want at your Christmas do!
TIP: Stick to at least 3 meals a day, or 5 smaller ones if you have diarrhoea predominant IBS.
3. Hit snooze
Lack of sleep can leave your hormones in a mess, which can trigger flare ups of gut symptoms. Getting your 7-9 hrs of shut-eye every night gives your gut time to rest and repair.
TIP: Limit screen time before bed – the blue light from your devices can stop you getting a good night’s rest.
4. Take time out
Relax and rewire your gut:brain axis with some meditation – an evidence-based way to increase your symptom threshold.
TIP: Spend 15 mins every morning listening to a meditation app such as Headspace. It can take a few months of daily practice to notice the effect, but stick with it – I promise it’s worth it.
5. Have something on your plate for your gut microbes
If you’re always eating out, be sure to include plant-based fibre options – vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
TIP: Get in the habit of ordering a side of vege or wholegrains with your roast, or opt for fruit as your pudding (fruit in your mulled wine doesn’t count, best to keep that in the glass!)