Easy Ways to Live Well: Steph McGovern discusses bloating
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From a glass of bucks fizz in the morning to a delicious Christmas dinner piled high with golden roast potatoes, the big day comes with an abidance of treats to enjoy. However, many people may find themselves feeling overly full and with a sudden case of festive bloating as the day wears on.
Bloating occurs when the stomach becomes stretched or puffy and usually feels rather uncomfortable.
Though it can happen due to a digestive issue, diet choices are also among the most common reasons behind bloating.
Festive food that is typically high in fat, carbs or non-digestible carbs like fibre are the worst contenders for causing an inflated belly.
An analysis by health and fitness educators at OriGym looked at the fibre, carbohydrate, and sugar content in festive staples, alongside their other bloat-inducing qualities.
From this, the nutritional experts have ranked the drinks and dishes you should avoid overindulging on this festive period if you want to beat the festive bloat.
Based on the analysis, the experts ranked this traditional festive dessert as the most bloat-inducing Christmas Day food item.
OriGym said: “With a high sugar and booze content, the Xmas pud could leave you feeling very bloated and windy.
“Loaded with dried fruit, almonds, butter and spice, the festive dessert is undoubtedly delicious, but it is high in natural sugar or ‘fructose’.
“The majority of people can’t properly break down the sugars in dried fruit, and so, excess gas is produced as a byproduct.”
Coming in with a high-fat content of 35g, cheese boards were found to be one of the biggest contributors to digestion issues and as a result were found to be the second most bloating food item.
OriGym said: “If you’re a lover of the smelly stuff, then you’re more likely to suffer the consequences too.
“Strong cheeses like stilton contain some of the highest fat content, which contributes to excess gas since they prolong stomach-emptying.
“This, combined with the issues dairy presents, make this food one of the most likely culprits to cause you to bloat or break wind in front of your party guests.”
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Stuffing contains two FODMAP ingredients renowned for causing bloating in some people.
Garlic and onion are fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates known as fructans.
According to OriGym: “They cause excessive gas, especially to those with a sensitive digestive lining.”
The experts added: “In small doses, stuffing can be a tasty addition to any festive plate, but if you want to prevent bloating then it may be worth avoiding too much of the herby mixture.”
Pigs in blankets
Pigs in blankets contain a high fat and meat content, which can slow digestion and extends the amount of time food stays in your gut to digest.
Based on the research, this may contribute to bloating.
OriGym said: “The popular side dish also contains sulphur, which is consumed by the bacteria in your digestive system and turned into hydrogen sulphide, causing excess gas and eggy-smelling farts.”
Cauliflower cheese contains two tummy-swelling ingredients and is also rather high in fat.
OriGym said: “As a cruciferous vegetable, the sulphur found in cauliflower can produce a gassy effect and cause a huge amount of wind.
“Not only that but according to BUPA, between one and two in every 10 people in the UK has lactose intolerance, meaning you’re probably going to find someone around your table who will be sensitive to the side dish.”
OriGym said: “Despite having 0g of fibre, egg nog contains two ingredients sometimes irritable to the stomach: milk and alcohol.
“Milk is a major contributor to flatulence and when paired with a sugary dark spirit like rum or brandy it can cause even more of an upset stomach.”
Sprouts are renowned for their after-effects when it comes to wind and bloating.
OriGym’s expert said: “Although high in carbs, sprouts may cause your stomach to swell because they contain high amounts of cellulose which digestive systems can struggle to process.
“Not only that but when the stomach and intestine attempt to break down bacteria in the sprouts, they release a number of gases including nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.”
Although baked beans are the usual suspects for causing flatulence, green beans are part of the legume family, and so may also contrite to bloating.
OriGym said: “As they’re high in carbs (7g) and sugars (3.3g), they may be the reason for your after-dinner bloat or stomach pain.
“In particular, green beans contain types of complex sugars called raffinose and stachyose that are known for triggering digestive problems and unwanted gas.”
Cabbage is a Christmas dinner essential, but when cooked, the leafy green may be the reason you start to hear rumbling noises down below.
OriGym said: “High in all three of the non-digestible carb food types, this green, leafy vegetable is one of the worst festive foods for causing rigorous bowel movements.
“Cabbage also contains organic sulphur compounds called glucosinolates that break down in the intestines and form other compounds like hydrogen sulphide, these can create a build-up of gas in your stomach and cause you to bloat.”
This sparkling wine is a popular drink throughout the day on Christmas, but the gas bubbles could be a cause of discomfort.
OriGym said: “Fizzy alcoholic beverages can make you feel overly gassy because of the surplus of bubbles.
“As you drink, you’re likely to swallow gulps of air that gets trapped in your gastrointestinal tract and can only be let out in the form of belching or passing gas.”
How to beat symptoms of bloating
There are several ways you can reduce the risk of bloating or ease discomfort if your stomach suddenly swells.
Eating smaller bites and chewing foods well
Reducing the portions of foods and drinks likely to cause bloating
Taking a stroll after eating
Drinking room temperature water
Having a peppermint tea after dinner
Sit up straight after eating
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