If you're reading this, congratulations, you survived Thanksgiving and Christmas! Now there's just New Years to go. If you're like many people though, you may be suffering with some post-holiday bloating (and a few extra pounds) thanks to overeating, indulging in rich foods, drinking alcohol, and perhaps some holiday stress. So it's time to break out the elastic waist pants and read these 5 tips below to help reduce your bloating.
1. Exercise. Engaging in some gentle activities, like walking and yoga, can be very helpful for stimulating digestion, expelling gas, and thus reducing bloating. In fact there are some studies showing that yoga can improve IBS symptoms overall. If you aren't currently practicing yoga or are intimidated by it, don't worry, you don't have to do intense yoga with headstands and pretzel poses, just start with some gentle positions. Yoga can be for anyone! You can start at home (plus that way you can fart all you'd like and no one else will notice). Do a Google search for "Yoga with Adriene" and look for some of her gentle videos. She also has several on yoga for digestion specifically, even one called Holiday Meal Digestion.
Healthline also has some great pictures of easy, gentle bloat relieving postures.
2. Drink some tea, specifically peppermint, fennel, or ginger. If you suffer from GERD, peppermint can make it worse, so avoid this if it triggers reflux for you. I always have some of these teas on hand for IBS flareups and I definitely pack them for travel. Not a tea but a pill, Heather's Tummy Tamers contain all three: peppermint, ginger, and fennel and works very well for some people.
3. Try going on a strict low FODMAP elimination diet for a few days. This diet helps reduce the overall gas and bloating that may come with consuming fermentable carbohydrates, if you are sensitive to them. Keep in mind, this diet is typically used as a temporary, learning diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and it includes multiple phases. The strictest elimination phase of this diet is not meant to be followed long term! If you'd like to learn more about safely following a low FODMAP diet for IBS, check out this article.
4. Try enteric coated peppermint capsules. Peppermint has some good research for reducing IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. The enteric coating is important because it allows the capsules to remain intact until they reach the small intestine and not break down in the stomach. If they aren't coated, you may experience wicked heartburn. Peppermint is an antispasmodic so it can soothe the muscles in the colon. I often recommend IBgard to my patients, which you can buy at many pharmacies or on Amazon. Follow dosing instructions per the packaging.
5. Use a warm compress on the abdomen, like a hot water bottle or a heating pad. In my 20 years of dealing with IBS, I've had my fair share of days spent lying in bed with my heating pad on my stomach. It can help to alleviate some of the pressure and gas build up. Plus it's also a nice nurturing thing to do for yourself when you aren't feeling well. Curl up in your bed with your heating pad and catch up on some reading.
If you have persistent bloating outside of holiday indulgences, and do not have a diagnosis of IBS or another GI disorder, please get evaluated by your healthcare provider.
I hope you won't need these tips but if you do, I hope they're helpful!
What things work best for your bloating? Leave your own tips in the comments section below!