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‘Have your Christmas pudding for breakfast’ – Susan Jane White’s top gut health tips to beat the festive bloat

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"Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating"

"Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating"

"Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating"

For readers who feel that Christmas is pathologically upbeat and designed to tripwire our adrenal glands, or indeed readers for whom Yuletide cartwheels through their veins with a side of Bing Crosby, here are seven easy ways to ensure that we beat the bloat and prevent our personalities from imploding. Fa-la-la-la-lahhh …

1 When plotting a banquet of extraordinary excess, digestive enzymes are your friend. Udo’s Choice and Solgar are my top two brands, and are available at pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Apple cider vinegar can also assist with indigestion and the excesses of Christmas week. Try a teeny splash in cool water to jumpstart digestion or expired personalities. Also worth serving to guests who have overstayed their welcome. Make theirs a double.

2 Christmas pudding after a mammoth meal? Our digestion is already wheezing like an asthmatic snail by late evening. Instead, try having Christmas pud for breakfast on Christmas Day, when your tummy will appreciate it so much more. I’m convinced it tastes even better! A side of live natural yoghurt will deliver some much-needed support to that hard-working metropolis hustling inside our gut. When we support our gut, our gut supports us.

3
Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating. A bath of magnesium salts can feel pretty cosmic for headaches (either directly or indirectly caused by in-laws). Magnesium is the Bach of the blood, seducing cramps, relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation to the brain. I’m planning Christmas Day in the bath. Maybe you should, too? Epsom salts can be found in your local pharmacy.

The Handmade Soap Co sells particularly good magnesium salts using Irish herbs like thyme and rosemary, so you can smell like a tranquil terrarium. Their packaging is FSC certified and wholly sustainable, with “every step of the process being mindful of future generations”. Not that I needed an excuse to spend more time in the bath, but it’s good to know I’m contributing towards my children’s future and a healthier planet by hiding in there all day.

4 Calm or kooky, it behoves us all to ready our switchboard for stress this week. Our nerves inform our gut when we are stressed. And so our gut makes the judicious decision to save energy on digestion by pressing pause, and redirecting energy to our limbs and brain in order to cope with the stressor. It feels like my digestive system conks out completely when I’m stressed. Not so nifty on Christmas Day!

Psychotherapist and broadcaster Alistair Appleton does affordable online courses to help you manage stress through breathwork.
Alistair is the new digestive enzyme! Even if breathwork is not your thing, Alistair’s mellifluous accent will surely serenade your synapses. See
mind-springs.org for more details and a course to suit you.

5
Jonny Bowden, nutritionist to the glitterati of LA, swears by eating a large salad before any big meal. A simple bowl of leaves and a dressing of apple cider vinegar and olive oil will fill us up with a cargo of goodness before we even start on the Christmas spread. This doesn’t mean that we eschew all the festive trimmings. It just means we have less room to stuff ourselves with rich foods. Fresh salad leaves can often help with digestion too, with lots of enzymatic activity.

6 On December 26 your body might like some life pumping through your veins again. The Thyme & Ginger Tea recipe featured in last week’s Life will have you pogoing like a giddy leprechaun once again (see link below). There’s a rainbow of antioxidants to tap-dance through your system and jazz up your bloodstream. Then there’s ginger’s notable anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory powers.

7 If any house elves succumb to constipation, allow me to introduce you to the linseed highway. This will deliver a cargo of omega-3 to your adrenal HQ (score!) and enough roughage to, erm, rough up your tank. Mix one tablespoon of linseed (also called flaxseed)with 3 tablespoons of juice or water, and then leave it to bloom for a few minutes before knocking it back. A few days of this age-old remedy, and you’ll feel like a twinkle-toed pixie. Or add a little linseed to your Christmas stuffing, for that is the best way to destuff the whole family.

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