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Beat the bloat this Easter

If Easter Sunday family lunch leaves you feeling bloated and uncomfortable you are not alone. During the Easter holidays we are inclined to eat more sugary, fatty and rich foods – with research suggesting that the average adult ploughs their way through 6,000 calories on Easter Sunday alone. It's hardly surprising that many people suffer from digestive issues - such as indigestion, bloating and wind - at this time of year.

Follow these simple steps to alleviate bloating and wind at Easter (tips courtesy of BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist Sarah West):

Eat little and often
Because the body finds fat hard to digest, a large, fattening meal can remain in the stomach for up to two hours while the gastric juices try to break it down, causing an uncomfortable full feeling and bloating. Smaller quantities over the course of the day instead of a big blow out will give the digestive process a rest.

Don’t skip meals
Prone to indigestion? Don’t be tempted to skip meals to save on calories – the stomach continually produces gastric acid and without food, acid levels rise. Eating helps “mop up” some of that acid, so a healthy snack is better than nothing at all. A mix of protein and complex carbohydrates (such as an oatcake with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts or some vegetables sticks with hummus) is ideal.

Take it slow
Many of us eat far too quickly, meaning that the saliva in the mouth doesn’t get a chance to start breaking down food in the vital first stage of digestion. If food isn’t adequately broken down, this can cause problems further down the line in the form of gas and bloating. Chew each bite properly (around 20-30 times) and try putting your knife and fork down between bites, so you really focus on each mouthful. Your brain is about 10-20 minutes behind your stomach when it comes to registering fullness, so this will also help to avoid unconscious overeating.

Take a good quality probiotic
A large quantity of sugary, fatty foods can upset the body’s balance of intestinal flora – promoting the growth of bad bacteria and making you more likely to suffer from unpleasant digestive symptoms. Taking a ‘live’ probiotic can help to readdress the balance of bacteria and leave you feeling more comfortable.

Be careful what you drink
Alcohol is a common indigestion culprit as it can damage the protective mucus lining of the stomach, leading to inflammation. The bubbles and artificial sweeteners in fizzy drinks can also cause your stomach to balloon. Alternating each alcoholic or fizzy drink with a glass of water is a great way to help keep unpleasant symptoms at bay.

A healthier Easter Sunday dinner
You don’t need to deprive yourself to avoid overdoing it. You can cut calories by choosing white turkey meat and removing the skin (saving about 50 calories per portion). Go easy on the roast potatoes and pile high the unbuttered vegetables - the more vegetables you eat the less room you’re likely to have for higher calories alternatives.

Healthier chocolate treats
When it comes to dessert, stick to a single portion and swap those big chocolate Easter eggs for a small amount of dark chocolate, perhaps melted over strawberries or just on its own. You won’t notice the difference but swapping from double to single cream will save over 300 calories per serving and you won’t really be able to taste the difference.