It’s that time of year when we start fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-ing. Visions of a snowy, joy filled holiday season (depending on where you are) become a part of our thoughts. It’s also a time of year where food and alcohol become a big focus in holiday gatherings, even though they’ll be smaller than usual this year. Everyone overstuffs themselves sometimes at this time of year, so if your pants feel tight, don’t beat yourself up. Try one of these strategies immediately after a big meal, as well as the following days to feel better.
1. Don’t beat yourself up
One over-the-top meal won’t destroy your health. Stressing out about it and feeling guilty about your eating habits can do more harm to your health than the meal itself and can lead to vicious cycles and battles with food. You deny yourself, feel deprived and then end up in another binge cycle—now that is unhealthy! Instead, think about what you will do differently in the future, especially in the days that follow, and action it.
2. Take a stroll
Head outside and take an easy stroll or leisurely bike ride to help stimulate your digestion and even out your blood sugar levels. Just don’t don’t overdo it. A heavy workout could send the blood to your legs instead of your stomach, which could slow digestion and keep them heavy feeling in your stomach around longer.
3. Drink some water
Grab a cup of water and sip it slowly after your big meal. It can assist your body in getting rid of excess salt you may have gotten from your meal and can reduce the chance of getting constipation. Keep drinking water over the rest of the day to keep yourself hydrated. And remember, don’t chug it by the gallon. You’ll just feel sicker.
4. Don’t lie down and nap
After a heavy meal, skip the nap on the couch. If you don’t, you miss the opportunity to burn off some of those extra calories you ate and lying down with a full stomach ca cause food to work its way back up. This can slow digestion and worsen acid reflux. Instead, go do the dishes or go for that walk I just mentioned.
5. Skip carbonated beverages
Carbonated beverages are a terrible idea after a heavy meal. You swallow gas every time you drink them which will fill your digestive system even more, causing you to feel fuller and more bloated. While you may burp some of it away, the rest moves through the digestive system until you pass it as gas. Ewwww…
6. Share the leftovers
Let’s be honest, those big, heavy, festive meals usually end up with leftovers. Share them out amongst your guests or take some time to divide them into single servings to grab and go later and avoid another binge fest. Don’t forget to skip popping grandma’s delectable pecan pie in the kitchen if you know you can’t resist it.
Schedule some time to work up a good sweat about 3-4 hours after a big meal so you’re fully digested. You can run, lift weights, play basketball, whatever gets your blood flowing. Getting in a good workout will help burn off those extra calories, jump-start your metabolism and prevent the brutal discomforts of constipation. Plus, regular exercise improves mood and controls hunger so you’re less likely to overeat again.
8. Plan out your next meal
Wishing you could “uneat” that third slice of pecan pie at Thanksgiving? Unfortunately, you can’t but what you can do is plan out lower calorie recipes and meals for the coming week ahead of time. Set aside some time to meal prep so you set yourself up for success.
9. Eat mindfully and slowly
When eating, engage all of your senses. Smell the food, enjoy the visual aesthetics of it, feel the texture in your mouth, savor the flavors, and slow down. When you get all your senses involved, it feels like a more complete experience, which means your brain will signal your stomach that it has been satisfied we can stop the eating—it essentially shuts down the appetite mechanism.
10. Opt for more nutrient dense foods
When you opt to switch out foods like fatty meat, white bread and French fries for more nutrient dense foods, you will consume less calories. Instead, choose vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, squash, and greens and whole grains instead of white rice or pasta as they have more protein and fiber. You’ll feel full and satisfied longer so you’ll eat less.
Try these ten tips and you’ll kick that heavy, bloated stomach feeling and get back on track quickly and easily.