Five top tips to prevent Christmas constipation

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By Lucy Kerrison

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

It’s the time of year we see an increase in constipation and an increase in bloating. Now if you have had a sudden change in symptoms, it is important to visit your GP and have other causes ruled out. If you have had other causes ruled out, or you want to prevent a sluggish gut over Christmas, read on!

Here are my top 5 tips to prevent that Christmas slump and sluggish gut:

Picture of glass of water.1. Keep up the fluids

A simple one to start with, but not to be underestimated. There tends to be less of a focus around fluids and hydration as it gets colder, but it is just as important to keep hydrated in the winter as it is in the summer. This is especially important if you tend to increase alcohol over the festive period, as this dehydrates us.

Aim for 35mls of fluid per kg body weight, more if you’re exercising and more if you’re drinking alcohol!

Picture of two people exercising and staying active2. Stay active

Keeping active can help to stimulate your gut muscles, helping food and stool move down and out of your gut. There is a tendency for exercise and time outdoors to decrease over the winter months, both of which are essential to prevent constipation and keep our microbiomes happy and diverse.

This can be helpful to preventing or reduce the afternoon slump after a big Christmas dinner! 

Picture of person deciding on a portion size.3. Watch those portions

Consuming a large meal results in a big pull of blood towards the gut to help you digest your food, resulting in a small reduction in blood flowing to the brain, resulting in sleepiness (hello Christmas afternoon snooze!).

Moderating portion sizes can also help prevent bloating, a common Christmas concern.

Picture of person choosing to add oats into diet.4. Top foods to add in for constipation relief

  • Prunes/dates – begin with 5 per day, increasing after 1 week if needed.
  • Flax/chia seeds – these form a gel in the gut, helping to soften the stool so it is easier to pass. Start with a teaspoon each day, building up as needed.
  • High fructose/polyol foods – these are a type of FODMAP which draw water into the gut, acting like a natural laxative. Examples include sweet potatoes, avocado, mango and mushrooms.
  • Oat-based products – this doesn’t have to be porridge, it could be oat-based biscuits an oat-bar or an oat-based cereal.

Picture of person performing stomach massage.5. Consider 5-10 minutes of abdominal massage in the morning

Massaging your large intestine (colon) in the direction it naturally moves, can help the transit of stool through your gut. We see a natural increase in gut motility in the morning, so this is a great time of day to regularly integrate a massage. Here is a step-by-step guide to the perfect gut massage.

This article was authored by Lucy Kerrison, a gut & IBD specialist dietitian. Do you need support with a symptom, condition or goal? You can book an appointment with Lucy Porter or any member of our specialist team here.


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