The holidays are upon us and aside from visiting with family and friends, gathering around the table and enjoying a meal and all too often overindulging are part of the holidays as well. But before you point the finger at Grandma’s apple pie or blame the tryptophan for your food hangover, plan ahead to avoid that after-dinner discomfort.
Dr. Kenneth Schwab of Jersey Shore Gastroenterology said moderation is the most reasonable approach to holiday parties. That moderation applies to both food and alcohol.
Don’t deny yourself
The Center for Disease Control has some guidelines for making wiser choices to help holiday proof your plans when it comes to festive parties and dinners. They are not suggesting that denying yourself those holiday foods you look forward to once a year but make plans for it and take a small amount of the foods you enjoy. The CDC suggests starting a small plate and fill it with favorite foods and then walk away from the buffet table. Begin your meal eating the vegetables first to take the edge off.
While you as a guest cannot control what is on the menu or even the time of dinner, you can be armed with a plan; eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.
Some smarter options
If you are bringing a dish to share, make it a healthier option. If there is a dessert, like a pumpkin pie that you have been looking forward to, then cut down on the other carbohydrates at the dinner table like sweet potatoes and bread during the meal. Do not skip a meal because you are saving those calories for the big feast. Skipping a meal will make it more difficult to maintain an even blood sugar level and increase the chances of being really hungry and then overeating. And rather than abandon any kind of healthy eating plan, if you slip up just get back to your healthy eating at the very next meal.
Simethicone is the secret weapon
But even if the best plan to beat the overindulging through the holiday is foiled there is still help to relieve that discomfort. Dr. Schwab said an upset stomach issue is usually handled by simple approaches like antacid and anti-“gas” remedies such as Gas-X, Mylanta and other over the counter products that contain simethicone as well as Pepto-Bismol. “Antacids are very helpful, and the differences are usually based on personal preferences. However, some do contain aluminum which may be a bit constipating for some people, while others may contain magnesium, which can lead to soft stools,” said Dr. Schwab “So choose wisely.”
The CDC suggests a better way to approach the holidays is to enjoy a small slice of pumpkin pie rather than pecan pie because even with a dollop of whipped cream, it still comes in lower in calories and sugar. If alcohol is part of the event, try to limit the intake and if you do have a drink, enjoy it with food.
The holidays are more than one day or one dinner, they stretch over weeks. So take your time to make them memorable, enjoy visiting family and friends, get plenty of sleep, find time to get some exercise and make sure to pack the antacids and Pepto-Bismol, just in case.