Have you enjoyed time with your family over the Christmas period, and now that you have stopped, you realise that your gut health has really been suffering? Often we put up with digestive symptoms such as excess bloating, wind, belching, gut pain, constipation and/or loose motions and accept them as our new normal. When in fact we should actually try and pay attention to our symptoms, as this is our body’s way of trying to let us know that things may be a bit out of balance. By noticing any symptoms, perhaps noting them down, we can speak with health professionals who have experience in the gut health space, to help us work out what our symptoms mean. One first (and important thing) to note – if you have noticed a sudden change in your bowels (for no apparent reason), any blood in your motions or you have lost weight without trying, I suggest speaking with your Doctor. These symptoms are not to be ignored.
There are a few main reasons for excess bloating after eating, but first I will give you a bit of a rundown on the digestive system (otherwise referred to as gut or GI tract) and the amazingness that it is!
Our digestive system starts at our mouth, includes many organs such as the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gall bladder, liver, small intestine and large intestine, and ends at our anus. Along the way there are many processes involved that, when working properly, result in us digesting and absorbing nutrients from our foods and fluids effectively. If there is an imbalance in our gut bacteria (ie dysbiosis), inadequate enzyme production from the pancreas, or even increases in stress levels – these can all cause disruption in the digestive process and result in gut symptoms (such as those listed earlier) and even malabsorption.
The 3 reasons why you’re feeling bloated after eating/drinking this holiday season:
- Eating too quickly. It is super important to take your time with meals. Sit down, take a breath, take in the different colours and flavours of your food. This will help your gut to prepare for the food that is coming its way!
- Too many sparkling drinks – soft drinks, sparkling wine, beer etc. Not only are these guys going to bloat you, they also have refined sugar in them. This is a bit of a double whammy when it comes to our gut health. The sugar helps to feed the bad bacteria that produce wind.
- Excess fermentation. We humans are fermenting creatures! We produce gas – that is a normal process of our digestion. However, sometimes we tend to over-ferment and produce excess wind. If you are feeling extra bloated at the moment, it is likely that there could be some imbalance in your gut bacteria. You may find that certain foods/fluids make you more bloated – this could be due to increased fermentation of certain carbohydrates (high FODMAPs), or the simple fact that you have overindulged and this has resulted in an imbalance in your microbiome (aka dysbiosis – more on this in a later blog post).
Hi, I’m Cathy, Holistic Dietitian and Gut Health Coach, owner of Nutrition Wellness Life, and Mum to 3 little munchkins. I love working with women who are struggling with digestive issues to help improve energy levels, reduce stress, and have a happier gut!
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What can you do about it?
Fear not – if you have overindulged over the Christmas period with extra pudding, wine, soft drinks, and the stress of running around between get togethers, things can and will settle down. Naturally, things tend to settle down once Christmas has been and gone, and you may even find that you can sit down and take a breath. It is the end of the year (and what a crazy year it has been), and stress levels have across the board been fairly high. Stress has an enormous impact on gut health (more on this interesting topic another day). So, remember to try and take a breath, enjoy a mindful moment every day (even the simple things of enjoying a warm cup of tea or taking a bath) – having that time for you is a non negotiable.
In terms of food and nourishment – an inflamed gut that is bloated, suffering with the symptoms of IBS, food intolerances, loose bowels/constipation, won’t be serving you well. You may find that you are lacking energy and zest for life, as you won’t be absorbing all of your nutrients effectively. If you have struggled with excess bloating, reactions to foods (and the list seems to be getting longer and longer), or you are feeling overwhelmed in terms of working it all out – reach out to me. I would love to help you through this, and come out of it with the knowledge and ability to have some control over your gut health symptoms.
Signing off for now. Yours in good health and wellness, Cathy