Mark Twain said, “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” But, the secret of success is actually to eat what you like and not have the food duke it out. Portion control, of course, is one of the biggest factors in alleviating issues like bloating, indigestion, gas and acid reflux. But during the holiday season when festive bingeing is difficult to avoid, you need other strategies to help stave off tummy trouble before you even take your first bite.
Here are 3 steps to save your stomach from digestive mishaps. 1. Slow it down.
Before you begin each meal, first take several deep calming breaths to help you relax and avoid mindlessly eating too fast. Sit down throughout each meal, and if possible, whenever you put food into your mouth (although it may be difficult at cocktail parties). Mindfully chew each mouthful of food 5 to 7 times; you will enjoy the food more, feel satiated (full) faster, and avoid digestive upsets. This is particularly important for difficult-to-digest foods like meat, dairy products, cruciferous veggies (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage), beans, and for some people, carbs including rice and pasta. 2. Eat raw.
Make sure that you eat some form of raw vegetable or fruit at each meal. Raw plants are the best source of food enzymes that help your digestive system to break down the carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre in foods. These are vital to absorb and use the foods’ nutrients. Eating a little raw – salad, veggie sticks, salsa or guacamole, sprouts in a sandwich, sauerkraut/kimchi –will help to replace natural enzymes lost in cooking the other foods eaten. (Even as little heat as 105 to 125 degrees F destroys enzymes.) Keep in mind that as you age, natural enzymes produced by the body are reduced so digestion (and absorption of nutrients) continues to decline. 3. Take digestive enzymes.
Supplemental digestive enzymes (made from pineapple, papaya and other natural substances) are easily found at health food stores and pharmacies. Taking enzymes just before or during a meal will not only help you avoid digestive complaints, it will help you to fully benefit from the food. Make sure the supplement has enzymes called amylase and/or invertase to break down starchy carbohydrates, protease and/or peptidase to break down protein, cellulase to break down fibre in vegetables and grains, lipase to break down fat, and lactase to break down dairy products.