8 Tips for Reducing Thanksgiving Bloat
Have you ever noticed that your bloat always seems worse on Thanksgiving? Not just those with IBS suffer that day. It affects nearly everyone.
We equate bloating to overeating since there are so many delicious options and it can become hard to control yourself. However, it’s actually not just the overeating that is the issue.
The foods we eat for a typical Thanksgiving meal usually include turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the veggie casseroles. Then there is the pick and eat foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, and desserts. And don’t forget the beer during football games (if you’re in America).
Every one of these things is a culprit of bloat.
Adding them all together creates a meal that turns you into a balloon. Let’s talk about how they create the bloat so we can figure out how to prevent it (while still enjoying our Thanksgiving favorites)!
Why Do Thanksgiving Foods Cause Bloating?
When we take a look at the main parts of our meal like turkey and stuffing etc., we don’t really see something that would cause bloating. But these foods include ingredients that can puff out our tummies like we are 8 months pregnant.
Turkey is loaded with sodium. Most of the time when we are looking at foods that cause bloat they’re in that FODMAP category. But turkey would usually be grouped in with something like chicken and chicken is healthy, right?
The sodium levels in turkey are really high, especially if you purchase one at the local grocery store.
A study was done with the DASH (high fiber) diet and high-sodium/low fiber diets. When the sodium intake levels were high, people on both diets experienced more bloating. While DASH participants still experienced higher bloating than controls, the less sodium they ate the less bloating they experienced.
This study helps us understand that high sodium consumption, no matter what diet you are using, will increase your bloating.
Sodium increases more than just bloating. Making it a habit to limit your sodium will be good for your overall health. Excessive sodium can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney problems
- Heart problems
- Issues with brain health
Stuffing is considered to be one of those comfort foods that is a staple at Thanksgiving. However, most of the ingredients can be causes of bloat. You’ve got bread, which for those who have wheat allergies or sensitivities can be a huge issue. Then there are onions who are one of the top gas-producing foods. And, like turkey, there is usually a high amount of sodium in the stuffing.
Cranberry sauce is so easy to make (or plop out of a can). Orange zest, cranberries, and sugar.
But the high sugar content can be feeding your bloat. Sugar is a carbohydrate and one of the biggest activators of bloat. When we look at diets that help with conditions where bloating is a symptom (like IBS) you’re often looking at low-carb diets.
Sugar also leads to many other complications like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. It has also been found to feed tumor growth.
Again, it’s the sugar that is a problem here. Sugar feeds your bad bacteria in your gut and allows them to overpower the good. The bad bacteria then release gasses that make your stomach protrude and your pants feel too tight.
Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, and Fresh Veggies, oh my!
Vegetables are supposed to make us feel good because they’re healthy, and they do. However, they do often tend to be culprits of a bad case of bloating. Veggies, especially raw ones tend to be a little difficult for our bodies to digest. When they’re cooked, they are a little easier for our bodies to manage, but they still feed the bacteria that throw off-gas.
Fruits and vegetables are some of the biggest sources of FODMAPs (the carbs that are often triggers of IBS symptoms like bloating). Carbs are found in three main sources: sugars, starches, and fiber. Fiber is important for our health, but it is also difficult for our bodies to break down properly.
So when we add the veggies with other things like butter, cheese, milk, or bread it doesn’t help our bodies to digest and actually makes it harder. That’s when we bloat.
Beer is the biggest bloat-inducer when it comes to alcohol. It isn’t just the carbonation that causes us problems. If we think about what beer is made from, we realize it’s coming from wheat which is a huge bloat trigger. Have you walked through the bread aisle and seen “gluten-free” options? That’s exactly what those products are avoiding, the same things that are in beer.
Other alcoholic beverages aren’t as bad for bloating, but they cause other gastrointestinal (GI) issues like diarrhea (which is another common symptom of IBS-D).
How to Reduce Your Thanksgiving Bloat
We aren’t here to tell you to not eat at your Thanksgiving celebration. Heck, you should be able to enjoy something this year! 2020 has been rough and sometimes that comfort food around your family can be all you need to bring your spirits back up.
But you don’t have to suffer from bloat and GI problems while you do it. If someone else is cooking you may not have a lot of choice in the matter, but if you’re doing the cooking there are some things you can change up to help everyone feel okay.
1. Go for fresh foods and foods which are packed full of polyphenols if you can
Fresh foods and those foods high in polyphenols are better options. Fresh foods aren’t riddled with sodium and other preservatives. These preservatives aren’t healthy and can lead to your bloat.
Get an array of colorful fruits and veggies on your plate. The more colorful, the better because you will be getting more of those beneficial polyphenols which will help with all sorts of gut issues!
If you can’t get a fresh turkey or other items…
2. Grab low/reduced sodium if you can’t
Low sodium may not taste as good, but you can be sure you’re being healthier. If you want to add in flavor, try adding fresh herbs and spices (not pre-packaged ones full of sodium — remember that’s what we are trying to limit). They not only help you add flavor, but you are also adding polyphenols, extra vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to your dish.
3. Be cautious about your sugar intake
Sugar leads to all sorts of problems, so you should be watching your sugar intake anyway. But if your main concern is your waistline then sugar is definitely one of the things you should watch out for.
4. Eat smaller portions
Smaller portions allow you to sample everything to satiate your appetite but don’t overload your body with too much food.
5. Eat slower
When you eat too quickly, you’re likely swallowing air as you’re eating. OR you’re not chewing your food well enough which is also bad for digestion. Eating slower also allows your body to tell you when you’re actually full instead of overstuffed.
6. Stop eating once you are content
When you overfill yourself, you can’t tell if it’s bloat or just being overstuffed. This also disturbs your digestive flow because it’s overloaded. Your body won’t be able to absorb any nutrients because you’ll be pushing the food through faster to make room in your stomach. Remember, you can always go back for more later.
7. Limit your alcohol intake
This is something we should be doing anyway. Alcohol leads to a plethora of problems and limiting how much you drink will always be good for your short and long-term health along with reducing bloat.
8. Take Atrantil
Atrantil was created to stop bloating at its source. The bacteria that give off gases are targeted by the three potent ingredients used. Doctor-created and scientifically proven, Atrantil has helped over 80% of people who use it avoid and fend off bloating.
Prepare your body for this Thanksgiving by reducing sodium and sugar, and taking Atrantil (as long as your doctor approves), and enjoy yourself this year! Let us know your favorite low-sodium treats below!