While August was all about Teej, Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami celebrations, September has been lined with festivals like Onam, Ganesh Visarjan, Vishwakarma Puja, Ziro Festival, Navratri and Pang Lhabsol Festival and October will continue to ring in the festivities of Dussehra and Diwali. This means an extended excuse to indulge in a lot of namkeens, gujiyas, sweets, etc but too much festive cheer is leaving most of us feeling bloated and swollen.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle coach in Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine and Founder of You Care, explained, “This happens when there is an accumulation of either fluids or gasses within the body, and several lifestyle factors can contribute towards that. Eating food in wrong combinations, eating too much, not chewing well, not cooking foods the right way, compromised digestion, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, drinking too less water, overdosing on alcohol, or having foods loaded with salt and preservatives can all make us look and feel puffy.”
He suggested a few eating habits that can help reduce this bloating and swelling:
1. Anti-bloat tea – Nature has endowed us with certain herbs and spices that work as natural diuretics. Coriander seed is one of them. Even a simple brew of coriander seed can help flush out excess and trapped water from your system making you feel better.
Here’s one recipe that really works well –
● 1 litre water in the Jar / Glass
● 2 tbsp Jeera
● 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
● 1 tbsp Fennel seeds
● 1 tsp Ajwain
– Soak overnight, boil the water in the morning and reduce it to half. Make it like an infusion. Strain it and add it to another bottle.
– Sip throughout the day.
2. Fennel post meals – Spices like cumin (jeera), black pepper (kali mirch), bishop’s weed (ajwain), fennel seeds (saunf), thyme, and parsley have carminative properties, meaning they prevent flatulence by supporting the digestion of foods which are otherwise tough to digest and might form gasses in individuals who have weak gut health. In traditional ways of Indian cooking, these spices are anyway a part of the recipe, but even the simple Indian practice of chewing fennel seeds or saunf after meals can help prevent or ease bloating. Plus, it’s a mouth freshener!
3. Chew slow and savour every bit – Slow down your pace of eating festive food. When we eat our food too quickly, we fail to use our teeth to break down food into smaller particles and send partially digested and larger chunks of food into our stomach. This leads to our stomach producing more acid and enzymes to break down food that our mouth should have done. This paves way for acidity and indigestion. Furthermore, these undigested pieces of food further travel down to our small intestine. These pieces of food irritate the mucosal linings of the intestine causing gut inflammation, bloating, more acidity, and upsetting the gut microbiome. Ever experienced bloating after eating a heavy meal too quickly? That is due to bad gut bacteria behaving the wrong way and trapped gasses just because you ate too quickly and did not chew.
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist and Co-Founder of Food Darzee, shared, “During the festive season, we go easy on our healthy eating regime. However, these changes in diet and eating patterns can affect our metabolism, gut health and overall health and bloating is one of its repercussions which leads to bodily discomfort. However, to make your life easy there are a lot of things that you can do.”
He advised, “First, identify the cause of the bloating to eliminate the symptoms. For instance, as many people experience bloating after consuming some foods such as legumes, high-fibre veggies, fruits, artificial sweeteners, etc. that contain high amounts of no digestible compounds, it is recommended to limit these trigger foods. Further, lactose intolerance is one of the most common conditions that cause bloating. Therefore, if you are lactose intolerant, it’s best to avoid dairy products. Also, increase your fibre and fluid intake as well as physical activity. Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water enough is one of the most effective solutions to keep bloating at bay. It helps in flushing out the toxins from our system and keeps the digestive tract moving.”
He added, “A glass of warm water mixed with lemon juice and a spoon of freshly pounded ginger will also help you get rid of bloating. It is also crucial to measure and control portion sizes, both at home, as well as, outside when we are at festival-related events. Limit your intake of foods high in salt and fats. Eat in small portions to give your digestive tract time to work. If small meals leave you hungry and low on energy, have a healthy snack like ragi crackers or eat some fruit fruits. Measure your food, use smaller dishes to eat and eat slowly to reduce the risk of bloating.”
With that being said, the festive season is just a different context. People experience bloating day in and out and it all comes down to that one drug that is inexpensive and practically free. It’s called lifestyle.