Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and isn’t finding getting back to the old routine too difficult!
January seems to be a time when people suffer quite badly from digestive problems, even people who aren’t normally troubled with digestive issues can feel like January can bring on discomforts such as constipation, bloating, uncomfortable heaviness and sluggishness.
I have a theory that the change in diet and activity levels over the Christmas period is responsible for the vast majority of these symptoms. Often times we eat richer foods which can be higher in fat and sugar and lower in fibre, we drink more alcohol and less water and we spend more time indoors and less time exercising. This can cause our digestive system to slow down quite dramatically and lead to these feelings, all of which can really get in the way when it comes to getting back to work, new year fitness goals and generally feeling well and energetic.
I’ve put together some tips which should help to get your digestion feeling better in no time!
• Drink plenty of water- many people will be doing ‘dry January’ and avoiding alcohol, but just making sure that you drink plenty of water of non-caffeinated drinks can help keep your digestion in great working order- fill a bottle and keep it to hand throughout the day, aim for 1.5- 2L daily.
• Try to aim for your 5-a- day of fruit and vegetables, these contain lots of fibre to keep your digestive system healthy. This can be hard to do in one go- so you need to include some at each meal and snack throughout the day.
• Focus on fibre- swap white starchy foods for brown or wholemeal to increase our fibre intake and keep your digestion working well. Try brown rice, wholemeal bread or pasta and wholegrain breakfast cereals like Weetabix or bran flakes. Eat pulses such as beans and lentils at lunch or evening meal as a healthy high fibre meal.
• Cut down on unhealthy fats. Fat slows the digestion and we often eat more over the festive period, especially unhealthy fats that you find in foods like mince pies, sausages, roast potatoes cooked in goose fat etc. Try to swap these for the more healthy types of fat you find in fish, nuts, avocado, olive oils and rapeseed oils.
• Get moving- it’s hard when the weather is cold, wet and dark but getting moving will stimulate your gut and help to relieve any digestive problems left over from Christmas- as well as helping shift any extra pounds gained over the Christmas period!
If you find that increasing fibre causes you increased digestive symptoms, or if your digestive symptoms have lasted for longer than 6 months, contact your GP for advice or feel free to give us a call at Stanner Nutrition Clinic on 01772 794769 for ways to relieve digestive symptoms with diet.