‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be harried trying to get ready for the holidays ... a classic recipe for indigestion and heartburn. “Belching, bloating or having gas are usually signs that you are eating too much, choosing the wrong foods or sitting down to a meal when you are stressed,” says Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.Instead of popping an antacid after you have indigestion, use these natural strategies to prevent belching, bloating and gas before you dig in.
Eating spicy with fatty foods is a one-two punch to the gut, says Dr. Gerard Mullin, associate professor of medicine, director of Integrative GI Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins and author of Inside Tract. It increases acidity and slows down the passage of food through your gut. Overindulging in heavy, rich desserts, especially if you don’t eat them the rest of the year, can also make you feel uncomfortably full. Keep a food diary to identify items that trigger indigestion and limit them.
“A little portion control can go a long way toward keeping your stomach from talking back to you,” Weil says. Instead of having seconds, save leftovers for dinner or lunch the next day. “Also, eating too fast or chewing with your mouth open can increase stomach pressure and lead to indigestion.”
Focus attention on your meal. Don’t multitask at a computer while having lunch, sit down to dinner after a fight with your teen or dine while watching a close football game at a sports bar. The stress can increase stomach acid and bring on heartburn.
They can inflame the lining of the upper digestive track.
Wear loose clothing, Weil says. Tight waistbands or belts can increase abdominal pressure enough to force stomach acid back up the esophagus.
“Build in time between serving the appetizers and main courses,” Mullin says. “Before eating dessert, get up from the table for some fresh air or move to another room and talk to let your stomach have time to digest your food.”
End a meal with chamomile, fennel or ginger tea, or warm water with a slice of lemon, Mullin says. They calm your stomach and move things along in your gut.
Some studies show that a slow walk after lunch or dinner can keep your stomach from feeling uncomfortably full and aid in digestion. Yoga or deep breathing exercises also work to calm the gut, Weil says.
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