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Thanksgiving Belly Woes: Why and What to do at the next big holiday meal

You survived the dinner. But maybe you felt poorly, looked nine months pregnant, or shhhh! had a little gas afterward! If this is the case, a few things for you to consider:

(1) Maybe you simply ate WAY TOO MUCH. Appetizers. Huge dinner. Multiple desserts. Plus a little, or a lot, of alcohol. Okay, chalk it up to TOO MUCH FOOD. But maybe it's something else, so keep reading...

(2) YOU ATE TOO FAST. If you were in a chaotic, loud home and everyone was amped up, chances are you ate your dinner in the same manner - on full speed. When we're on full speed, we don't chew our food. We tend to swallow bits of our food whole and wash it down with something to drink. All of those unchewed bits sit in our stomach waiting to be broken down by stomach acid and digestive enzymes. And wait they do.

(3) YOU ATE SOMETHING TO WHICH YOU ARE SENSITIVE. Gluten (found in the beer, rolls, stuffing and gravy) and dairy (think mashed potatoes and butter) are likely culprits. Or, maybe it was those creamed onions and the extra raw-garlicky caesar salad dressing. Or sometimes it's not just one thing. Let me explain: Eating a lot of different things that you have a little sensitivity to can be equivalent to eating a lot of one thing to which you are sensitive.

Here's what you can do about this in the future.

(1) EAT MINDFULLY: Here's a great PDF from The Center of Mindful Eating to focus you on what mindful eating is and its principles. It will give you ideas for why and how to slow down.

(2) DIGESTIVE ENZYMES and HYDROCHLORIC ACID: Our bodies make gastric juices and enzymes to break down food. The symptoms of bloating and gas emerge when you don't have enough. The more food that's in the belly, the less masticated ("chewed up") it is, and the older we get (or the more compromised gut we have), the more we can expect these unwanted symptoms to emerge. I recommend taking a high quality supplement 20 minutes before eating.

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(3) ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: Think of this as a paper towel to sop up the spill. The charcoal helps mop away the gas-causing substances in our bodies. I don't want you to rely on this daily, but it can be helpful when you consume too much food. (Note: this is not appropriate for when you consume too much alcohol.) I recommend taking a high quality capsule two hours after eating with 16 ounces of water. (Note: do not take any medications two hours before or after taking the charcoal.)

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With more holiday parties and dinners around the corner, be prepared to better manage your symptoms.

DISCLAIMER: This is general information and is not a substitute for medical advice. As an example, some suggestions are not appropriate for pregnant or nursing women, individuals with kidney disease, children or young adults, or individuals who have other conditions. It is imperative you consult with your physician first before taking any action.

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