Whether it’s Deepavali, Christmas, or New Year’s Day, the end of every year ushers in a bevy of celebrations for Singaporeans and of course, a wonderful season for some festive feasting. Even as we indulge ourselves at family gatherings, feasts with friends, or office parties, we should take care to avoid inviting unwelcome guests — indigestion and bloating.
Discover how you can keep indigestion and bloating at bay with our recommendations and tips!
What does indigestion feel like?
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is often experienced as a stomachache or upset tummy after having a meal. You may feel pain in the upper abdomen, experience a burning sensation, or feel overly satiated after your meal. While indigestion is typically mild and will disappear after some time, it can still cause discomfort, nausea, bloating, and heartburn for a few hours.
What can cause indigestion?
1. Acid reflux
The most commonly known culprit that causes indigestion is acid reflux. This is when stomach acid flows back up into the oesophagus, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation. This is commonly known as heartburn.
2. Underlying digestive conditions
There are also other underlying digestive conditions that can lead to indigestion. Some common conditions are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
There are some medications that can also cause indigestion. If you’re experiencing heartburn, check if the medications you are consuming are in the list below:
- Aspirin and other painkillers, such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen
- Estrogen and oral contraceptives
- Steroid medications
- Certain antibiotics
- Thyroid medicines
4. Lifestyle factors
Of course, lifestyle factors can also cause indigestion.
- Overeating, eating too quickly, consuming high-fat foods, & eating during periods of great stress
- Overindulging in alcohol
- Cigarette smoking
- Stress & fatigue
During the festive season, our eating habits are most likely to be the cause of indigestion. That’s why it’s even more important to control ourselves even as we indulge in good food with good company!
Do note that swallowing excessive air while eating will also contribute to belching and bloating, which usually happens when you eat and swallow your food too quickly.
How to prevent indigestion
1. Have a light snack before visiting your relatives
Doing this might sound counterproductive, but did you know that having a small, healthy snack before you visit your relatives might help you to better regulate your eating? That’s because you’ll be less likely to feel ravenous and wolf down your food when faced with festive goodies.
When choosing your snack, opt for something that isn’t too filling or rich, such as a piece of fruit, a slice of bread, biscuits, or a handful of nuts.
2. Avoid tight clothes
In this season of feasting, it’s best for us to opt for loose, comfortable attire to prevent added pressure on our stomachs. Swapping out your tight T-shirts, jeans, and dresses for less restrictive ones can stop acid reflux from happening.
3. Eat slowly and chew more
Sometimes the food’s so good you need to eat more, but before that happens, why don’t you take the time to savour each bite as you enjoy your meal? This will help your digestive process and give you more time to feel full and avoid overeating.
4. Drink beverages after your meal, not during
Drinking too much water, juice, or any kind of liquid during meals could dilute your digestive enzymes. So it’s best to let your digestive process kick in first and save your beverages for after your meal.
5. Limit caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol tend to irritate our stomach lining when we overindulge ourselves. Try to drink them in moderation to avoid the bane of indigestion.
6. Avoid acidic, fried, and oily foods
While it’s tempting to gorge on acidic, fried or oily foods during the festive season—since they’re just so good—it’s best to opt for lighter, healthier alternatives where possible to ease the load on your stomach. That’s because when we eat high-fat foods, our digestive system naturally releases more acids and enzymes, which may put it on overdrive and cause irritation.
Try to be disciplined and choose healthier dishes on the dining table. For example, instead of opting for turkey, sausages, or curries, load up your plate with more vegetables and salads.
7. Say ‘no’ when you’re full
Sometimes it’s difficult to say no to our loved ones, especially when they mean well and want us to enjoy the festivities. Regardless, you should always listen to your body. Overeating can overwhelm your digestive system and you shouldn’t let your pushy relatives strong-arm you into eating any more than what you’re comfortable with.
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What to do when you have indigestion?
Against our best efforts, indigestion and bloating can still strike us. Here’s what you can do to help alleviate these temporary discomforts.
1. Go for a walk
Light exercise can aid digestion and alleviate discomfort by getting your digestive process to hasten up. Take care not to overdo it and simply move around a bit after eating.
2. Have sips of warm water
When you’re experiencing heartburn and acid reflux, small sips of water might make you feel better. That’s because the water might help to wash stomach acids back into your stomach. However, avoid drinking too much at one go as it’ll likely stretch your stomach even more and cause even more discomfort.
Having warm water can also help if you’re burping and feeling gassy.
3. Take medication for instant relief
For immediate relief, you may also consider antacids or Gaviscon to quickly deal with your symptoms.
4. Have a good night’s rest
Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being, including digestive health. So sleep early, and sleep enough to help your digestive system rest and recover.
5. Hydrate yourself in the morning
Starting your day with a glass of water can help kickstart your metabolism and reinvigorate your digestive system as well.
6. Sip on warm peppermint or ginger tea
Soothing and known for their digestive-aiding properties, peppermint or ginger teas can immediately relieve your indigestion symptoms and bloating.
7. Eat smaller, lighter, and more frequent meals
You can also consider eating smaller but more frequent meals to help your stomach recover and lessen the load on your digestive system as it recovers from indigestion. After all, your stomach may be overloaded with the richest meal you’ve had all year. Choose easily digestible foods as well if possible, such as soups.
We should all get to indulge during the festive season worry-free. Our dedicated professionals are here to ensure your well-being, allowing you to focus on what truly matters — creating cherished memories with family and friends. If you are searching for care support for a loved one’s care plan this festive season, our Care Pros can help with personal care, nursing care, and therapy services, all in the comfort of your home.
All of us at Homage wish you a joyous festive season with good health and happiness!
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- Contributors, W. E. (n.d.). Indigestion and Your Digestive System. WebMD. Retrieved November 26, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/indigestion-overview
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia): Causes & Treatment. (2022, December 19). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/7316-indigestion-dyspepsia