“Certain foods can be harder to digest than others, which can produce gas and leave you feeling bloated,” says Alissa Rumsey R.D., C.S.C.S. Try to avoid the fattiest foods (sorry, egg nog), as fat takes longer to digest and can lead to that puffy feeling. Also steer clear of the salt-soaked holiday ham. “Salt causes water retention, which makes stomach distention worse,” says Rumsey.
Mind your Ps
Avoiding bloat isn't only about avoiding foods; it's also key to eat more foods that are effective at battling bloat. As you let yourself slide on some of the worst offenders, reach for a healthy helping of the three Ps: potassium, protein, and probiotics. “You can benefit from a boost of potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, winter squash, citrus, bananas, and nuts, which help regulate excess sodium,” says Dana Angelo White, R.D., nutrition expert for The Food Network. Protein has a similar effect, acting like a natural diuretic to help your bod flush excess water. Lastly, get some probiotic-packed yogurt. “Those tummy-pleasing probiotics can help to prevent gas and bloating in your gut,” says White.
Keep your fiber on fleek
As a general rule, fiber helps keep your digestive system moving on schedule. But if you’re not already eating a lot of this bloat banisher, this is not the time to start upping your dose. “If you aren't used to eating fiber, a larger than normal dose of it can be hard for your body to digest and can actually lead to bloating,” says Rumsey. Wean yourself onto higher fiber foods slowly, starting with small portions. If you are a fiber eater already, make sure you’re getting enough of it amidst the trays of holiday sweets.
Eat smaller portions
When you eat a large meal, your body has to work hard to digest it, which can take longer than normal, says Rumsey. “This can lead to feeling bloated and puffy for a few hours after you eat,” she says. Whether you can’t help grazing on the cookies or crudité, keep the portions small. Even nutritious picks like broccoli and cauliflower can cause bloating if you eat a lot of them. “What we need is to adapt our bodies to tolerate these foods,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. Starting with small amounts of them can help, she says.
Slow your roll
Along with picking smaller portions, stop slamming your treats down. “Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow more air, worsening bloat,” says Rumsey. Take a full 30 minutes to finish a meal, which will help you banish the bloat and listen for when your body tells you it’s full, which is another important part of keeping puffiness in check.
Avoid champagne showers
Alcohol is a bloating offender on its own, but when you introduce extra bubbles into the mix it takes bloating to the next level by pushing air into your GI tract, says Dudash.
Get your hydration on
Water helps to speed up digestion and can counteract the effects of salt and carb-induced bloating, says Rumsey. Aim for six to eight glasses a day, especially during the holidays. If this feels challenging amidst the sea of festive holiday beverages, White recommends sprucing up your H2O with an infusion of citrus, melon or herbs like rosemary.
Don't skip the sweat
If you’re overindulging with food and booze, try to stick with your exercise routine. But you don’t have to commit to holiday HIIT classes to keep your bod running smoothly. Light exercise, like walking, jogging or yoga, can help carry oxygen to your digestive tract and move everything through you faster, says Rumsey.
Start again tomorrow
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up. Indulging once in a while is not that big of a deal—just give away all the leftovers and start fresh tomorrow. Rumsey suggests starting with a healthy breakfast that has a good balance of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Try avocado toast on whole grain bread topped with smoked salmon to start off on the right foot.