‘Tis the season for rich foods, festive parties, and plentiful drinks. But all the merriment can be trouble for your GI tract, which means you may find yourself, well, backed up this time of year. And there’s nothing that can put a damper on your day quite like bloating and stomach pain. Here, the top reasons for toilet troubles this time of year, and the simple, M.D.-backed remedies.
Your Schedule is Off Track
This time of year your schedule is jam-packed with parties, travel, and extra to-dos. But while you may be mentally on board with eating, sleeping, and exercising at different times than usual, your bowels probably haven’t quite caught up, causing constipation, says integrative gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, M.D. author of Gutbliss. She suggests sticking to your normal schedule as best you can, but always making time for exercise. Even just five to 10 minutes of walking, yoga, or jumping rope can have a stimulant, regulating effect on your GI system.
Another point: You may be eating later than typical. “From a digestive point of view, you should start putting food into your digestive tract when the sun rises and stop when the sun sets, which now is around 5 p.m.,” says Chutkan. Pushing back dinner time a bit won’t matter, but if you’re not even sitting down to eat until 9 p.m., that food will sit in your GI tract all night, which can clog you up.