We all know we eat a bit too much on Christmas Day, but nevertheless, the news that we eat 3,500 calories too much is a little unnerving.
Yup, according to reports, the average Brit will be packing away an eye-watering 6,000 calories come December 25.
And while you might shrug, figure it’s all part of the festivities, and say you’ll worry about the inevitable weight gain in January, there are some overindulgence side-effects that can’t be ignored…
How to get rid of indigestion
We’ve all been there - second helping of turkey in and suddenly there’s the genuine panic your stomach lining is about to explode. “Occasional indigestion linked with stress or overeating is common,” says Dr Sarah Brewer, GP, registered nutritionist.
Treat it: “If simple antacids aren’t strong enough,” says Brewer, “tablets that switch off acid production are available over the counter.”
Milk Thistle, a traditional herbal medicine, is also licensed to treat over-indulgence, indigestion and upset stomach.
Prevent it: You might not want to hear it, but Rob Hobson, Healthspan head of nutrition says: “Try eating smaller meals and waiting a short time before you decide to eat a second helping of food. Eating slowly can also help as you stimulate the enzymes required for digestion.
“Go easy on fatty rich foods as these take the longest to digest and so aggravate indigestion and heartburn. Try to choose more of the starchy carbohydrates and lean proteins on offer as they can help to stimulate more bile and improve digestion.”
How to deal with heartburn
Ooh, ow. Ooh, yuck. First the chest pain, then the weird acidy taste in your mouth – heartburn, or acid reflux, is not pleasant, and is often (certainly at this time of year) caused by eating so much that your stomach creates too much acid then shoves it back up your oesophagus.
Treat it: There are many over-the-counter antacids, which neutralise excess stomach acid. In terms of what to avoid, Hobson also stresses: “Mint tea is useful to relieve bloating but not heartburn as it relaxes the gut wall which may encourage reflux.”
Prevent it: Similar to general indigestion, one of the easiest ways to prevent heartburn is simply to eat a bit less, a bit more slowly. Sorry…
How to get rid of constipation
Never ideal, but certainly not when there’s a houseful of guests waiting for the bathroom… “Constipation is an embarrassing condition that can be due to not eating enough fibre (from fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals) and not drinking sufficient fluids,” explains Brewer.
Treat it: Use an over-the-counter remedy, or go old-school and just up your quota of fruit and veg (no, another roast potato doesn’t count). Make sure you drink enough water too.
Prevent it: “Taking fibre supplements can help to maintain healthy bowels,” says Brewer. Or in the short-term, you can just balance out your piles of rich turkey/sausages with fibre-heavy vegetables – the BDA advises that a third of your plate should be veggies (and again, no, roast potatoes don’t count).
How to stop bloating
Oh the joy of the sprout: looks horrible, tastes horrible, then leads to horrible gas (due to tiny sugars that are hard for the body to digest). Combine that with general overstuffing of other foods, and it’s no wonder things get a little ‘windy’.
Treat it: Dr Sarah Brewer recommends artichoke supplements “as one of the best supplements for feeling bloated - it rapidly increases liver production of bile to improve digestion and can be taken before or after (or both) a party.
“Try soothing teas such as chamomile, ginger and peppermint after your meals,” adds Hobson.
Prevent it: Go easy on the sprouts, obviously, and also go easy on the speed you devour your food - when you wolf down food, you both let too much air into your digestive tract, and also fail to chew properly, meaning larger pieces of food will be trapped in your stomach, causing that feeling of bloating.
Best cures for hangovers
A poll today by Healthspan revealed that most women rate their stress levels as seven out of 10 during Christmas – and one in 20 said they tended to drink more as a result. They’re not the only ones; apparently the average festive booze consumption in the UK is a hangover-from-hell inducing 62 units.
Treat it: Everyone has their own views on what constitutes a good hangover cure, but actually, nutritionists suggest hot water with lemon, to neutralise all the acid; ginger to ease nausea, and low GI foods like porridge to up your blood sugar levels slowly. And drink a lot of water to rehydrate yourself too.
Prevent it: The old ones are the best: alternate alcoholic drinks with water, don’t drink on an empty stomach, and drink a pint of water before you go to bed.