With a little planning and a few simple precautions, you can sail through the season feeling good.
IF YOUR DECEMBER calendar reads like a recipe for a stomachache—four nights in your aunt’s basement guest room, three cookie swaps, two long-haul flights, and one raucous open-bar bash—don’t lose hope! “Getting through the holidays with a healthy gut is simply a matter of keeping up good habits, like eating lots of fiber and exercising, as well as recognizing what triggers you and trying to minimize or avoid it,” says Lin Chang, MD, vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian division of digestive diseases at UCLA. Here, experts share useful strategies for outsmarting the top troublemakers.
1. Your life is in overdrive
For many of us, the holidays come with two kinds of stress: chronic (think taking care of your family) and acute (Surprise! Your mother-in-law is here). Both can trigger the release of stress hormones and put your autonomic nervous system—the thing that controls unconscious bodily processes like digestion—into high alert, leading to GI distress, such as gas, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, says Dr. Chang.
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