Holy cramps!

Published by Manila Bulletin on January 6, 2015

After all the food you have eaten to celebrate and welcome the New Year, it suddenly comes like an uninvited and unwanted guest. It makes you feel queasy, gassy and bloated. You may also experience abdominal pain, heartburn, difficulty in breathing, belching, acidity, or may even throw up! These symptoms may last for days on end. Say hello to indigestion.

124Indigestion can happen to anyone who eats too fast, eats too much food, consumes high fat foods, drinks too much alcohol, eats when stressed out, and smokes cigarettes. The factors I have mentioned commonly happen during or even after the holiday season when almost everyone had the tendency to have eaten eat more than usual and may have had more than a drink or two to celebrate the happy season.

Indigestion can be prevented by adapting healthy eating habits and learning how to manage stress. However you may still get indigestion due to some diseases, medications, and pregnancy. The following tips can help ease your pain and discomfort. These may also help prevent this condition.

• Drink peppermint tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. As a result, food passes through the stomach more quickly. However, if your symptoms of indigestion are related to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, you should not use peppermint.”

• Eat smaller portions while taking time to chew your food properly. Be mindful not only of what you eat but how you eat as well. Decreasing your eating pace has a lot of benefits, too. It will enhance satiety and decrease the amount of calories consumed. It will also allow you to socialize more.

• Avoid stressful situations if you can and seek relaxation during and after meals. Listen to calm music, read, meditate, or engage in relaxing conversations. Save those serious topics and sad news for later.

• Don’t talk when your mouth is full. You will swallow more air which will cause bloating and make symptoms of indigestion worse.

• Loosen tight clothing or avoid wearing tight fitting clothes. They compress the stomach which can cause a reflux or backflow of the contents into the esophagus. This condition may cause pain on your chest which is also known as heartburn.

• Avoid lying down right after eating. Sitting down or walking can help facilitate the movement of food down your digestive system.

• Avoid eating before bedtime. Your last meal or food intake should not be less than three hours before sleeping to allow time for proper digestion.

• Do not exercise right after eating. It is best to exercise before a meal or one to two hours after.

• Drink fluids after eating instead of during a meal.

• Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

• Avoid spicy and high fat foods.

• Avoid smoking cigarettes before and after meals or consider quitting altogether.

If symptoms persist, it is best to seek medical advice to be given proper diagnosis and treatment.