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Avoid Holiday Stomach Upsets

photo of Thanksgiving Turkey dinner | GI NorthThe holidays are upon us and that means getting together with family for large meals around the dining room table. Unfortunately, many of us end up with stomach upsets or indigestion after eating much more than we’re used to having at one sitting.

Digestion

Your digestive system is composed of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. When you eat food, it travels through the hollow “tubes” that make up the GI tract, making its way through other organs that take in nutrients, with the waste passing through the anus.

Digesting food is vital for getting nutrients into your system. The digestive process involves chewing food, swallowing it into the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas and liver. Your body uses muscles and natural digestive juices to move the food and nutrients along.

How Holiday Meals Can Cause Stomach Upsets

When you eat large portions of food in one sitting, it puts pressure on your esophageal sphincter. When that pressure builds, it can cause food and acid to move back up, causing heartburn. In fact, your entire digestive system can be slowed down, causing stomachache and constipation.

Those rich foods on the table are mostly full of sugar and fat. Fat can slow digestion and cause reflux. The same is true of chocolates, coffee, and acidic foods.

The stress of the holidays can also be the cause of stomach upsets. Think of all that shopping for gifts, cooking, cleaning, traveling, and arguing with family members. Stress can result in upset stomachs and heartburn, plus, when you are stressed, you may want to deal with the tension by drinking and eating too much.

Preventing Stomach Upsets

Before going to or hosting a large holiday dinner, try to plan your behavior ahead of time and become aware of how much you’re eating. Here are a few tips to avoid stomach upsets:

  • Only have a second helping of that one dish you really enjoy.
  • When you know the holiday dinner will be especially rich and fatty, compensate by eating a healthy lunch of high-fiber foods.
  • Be conscious of everything you eat throughout the holiday season. Think before you eat, because tasty treats will be everywhere!
  • Eat lavish meals slowly. Savor your food and you won’t overeat as much.
  • Alcohol can irritate your GI tract, so don’t overdo it.
  • Take a short walk after a large meal instead of collapsing on a couch for a nap.

When To Seek Help for Digestive Issues

If you experience ongoing, longer-lasting symptoms that go beyond the holidays and occasional stomach upsets, diarrhea or a little heartburn, then it may be time to see a GI specialist.

The staff and physicians at GI North specialize in digestive system medicine. Dr. Simon Cofrancesco, a gastroenterologist, founded GI North in 2011. Dr. Sergio Quijano, who speaks fluent Spanish, joined the GI North practice after moving to Georgia from New York. GI North serves the Cumming, GA area, including Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, Suwanee and beyond.

The above article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please call the staff at GI North if you have any questions or wish to make an appointment.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.