According to a recent survey, the average Brit eats over 5,000 calories on Christmas day alone, so it comes as no surprise that most of us will wake up on boxing day with a dreaded food baby, or in more scientific terms, a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food!
Whilst overeating on Christmas day may seem inevitable, Nutritionist Kym Lang from Enterosgel shares her top tips and tricks to limit the damage, or deal with bloating if it’s already too late:
1. Don’t go to bed on a full stomach
There’s something in the old saying “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper”. Going to bed after a big Christmas meal almost guarantees a Boxing Day food baby. Food takes about eight hours to travel through the stomach to the small intestine and colon, which explains that heavy feeling the morning after. Meat and rich food can take another day to fully digest, so make lunch your main Christmas meal, with a light snack a few hours before bed – a turkey salad sandwich on granary bread is ideal. The veggies and wholegrains will encourage speedy gut transit.
2. Swap cocktails for mocktails
A few cocktails might get you in a festive mood, but it’s easy to eat more than you planned to when you drink. Alcohol stimulates appetite, and overeating means you’re more likely to wake up with a sore stomach. The other downside of alcohol is that it’s dehydrating, which can lead to fluid retention. Mix up a mocktail on Christmas Day, like cranberry juice with soda water and mint. You’ll still feel celebratory, but your kidneys – which regulate fluid levels in the body – will cope better.
3. Try something bitter
Digestion starts in the mouth. Bitter foods such as apple cider vinegar and some leafy greens are thought to stimulate the production of saliva, stomach acid and digestive enzymes, helping your gut break down and absorb food.
Start your Boxing Day brunch with a bitter green salad of rocket and chicory leaves. Top with chopped walnuts left over from the big day, and drizzle over a dressing of olive oil, lemon and apple cider vinegar to get your taste buds going.
4. Take it slow
If you’re already suffering, don’t head straight into the usual Boxing Day binge. Resolve to eat small, light meals across the day to give your stomach a break and avoid further pressure on the gut. Think fruit salad for breakfast and scrambled eggs on multigrain toast for lunch. Snack on Christmas clementine’s and a small handful of unsalted almonds. Try not to eat slumped on the couch, as this won’t do your digestive system any favours. Set the table, eat slowly and enjoy some peace and quiet.
5. That food baby could be something else
Bloating and stomach pain on Boxing Day morning could be early warning signs of food or alcohol poisoning, which is more common at Christmas (think undercooked turkey or eating out if you travel). If your bloating does develop into tummy troubles like diarrhoea, start taking Enterosgel (£20.99 from www.boots.com), a unique and drug-free organic gastrointestinal adsorbent. It binds to toxins from the bacteria which cause food poisoning and stomach upsets, gently removing harmful molecules with the stool and helping you recover more quickly.