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Is holiday eating wreaking havoc on your bowels?

The sudden changes in diet that come with eating during the holidays can throw off your bowels and GI (gastrointestinal) system. Not to mention, this time of year is associated with eating more comfort foods like pie, mac and cheese, breads, and desserts. These types of food have more starch in them which can slow down movement of your bowels.

If you are experiencing more difficulty with bowel movements, bloating, or constipation during this time of year it makes sense. The GI system, or your bowels, really like routine and structure. Getting up and eating at the same time of day, eating enough fiber, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting enough activity levels all help keep things moving in the bowels.

Another thing to consider is that more people travel during the holidays. When we are traveling our typical daily routine changes. We wake up at different times, we go to sleep late, we may even eat later than normal. Our diet may also change during travel. We may be limited in our food choices at airports and while making pit stops during long drives. These are all things that affect how your bowels function.

Many of us want to avoid having to run to the restroom frequently when we travel so we limit our fluid intake. Decreased fluid intake can dehydrate us which has the potential to slow down movement in the bowels.

If you find yourself dealing with some constipation or slow movement of the bowels, here are a few tips you can try to get things moving:

  • Drink more fluids that replenish such as water, decaffeinated beverages, or prune juice

  • Go for a walk or get some exercise to improve peristalsis

  • Increase fiber in your diet

  • Try hot liquids first thing in the morning to get the bowels moving

  • Eat breakfast because it stimulates the GI system

  • Try bowel massage; perform each step below 10 times before moving to the next step:

    1. Light massage on the abdomen starting above the right hip moving up towards the ribcage

    2. Then move across the abdomen just below the ribcage from right to left

    3. Next move down the left side of the abdomen from below ribcage towards the left hip and pelvis

    4. Finally massage from left pelvic bone towards the area below the belly button

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