Fight holiday bloating

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The best tip to avoid bloating is to avoid eating too much at a time. But with Christmas feasts approaching, that tip alone might be difficult to follow. So here are some more tips, some with a Chinese medicine slant.


Bloating in Chinese medicine is linked with the Spleen system (if you’re curious, watch a simplified summary in the video below). As usual in Chinese medicine, it’s not strictly about the physical organ, but about a collection of functions, some of which have nothing to do with the organ as known in Western medicine. Amongst other things, the Spleen (which I will spell with a capital letter when I mean its Chinese version) is responsible for processing – both food and thought. Yes, even when we worry, stress, obsess or study too much we can get bloated too. The bottom line is, to avoid bloating, we need to be able to process well enough. Some ideas around your meals:

  1. Introduce ginger to help stimulate your digestion. Have a cup of ginger tea or warm water with a slice of ginger before your meal. You can also start the day with one. As a bonus, you can add ginger to your cooking.
  2. Enjoy your meals (and drinks) warm, avoid challenging your digestive system with cold and raw foods at this time. You’d need a lot of extra digestive fire to warm and burn all that! And if Chinese medical speak sounds weird, think about the smooth muscle in your digestive system that has to work on food, and how muscles need to be warm to work well.
  3. Eat slowly to avoid swallowing air that causes bloating. Chew your meals thoroughly to break down your food (your stomach doesn’t have teeth) and allow the release of digestive enzymes. You’ll also help this by avoiding drinking during meals (have only tiny sips if you must). Slowing down will make food more satisfying and allow that signal of ‘being full’ to reach your brain in time, so you may even eat less.
  4. Observe your reaction to certain foods and try to avoid those that made you feel bad before. Speak with your nutritionist and/or healthcare professional about it – you may benefit from taking digestive enzymes, regularly or just with large meals.
  5. Cumin, coriander and fennel seeds are also good for bloating. Make an infusion with hot water, or buy tea in the supermarket – for example, Pukka’s Three Fennel Tea. You can also pick up some peppermint tea (or leaves to infuse in hot water) which will relax digestive muscles and help them work better.
  6. Apply warmth to your center if you feel bloating coming on after a meal. Use a warm water bottle or give yourself a gentle belly rub (clockwise).
  7. And finally, go for a walk after your Christmas meal! Don’t be a couch potato. Movement will stimulate your digestion. Enjoy some time with family and friends or take the dog for a stroll.

Happy holidays!


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