How to Beat the Bloat on Thanksgiving: Avoiding Common Culprits of Digestive Distress

How to Beat the Bloat on Thanksgiving: Avoiding Common Culprits of Digestive Distress


We all look forward to Thanksgiving Dinner, but for many of us those plates full of Turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie come with a side of bloating or other digestive distress. You may have even accepted it as just a part of the holiday. But can you enjoy your festive meal and still feel good after? Let’s talk about how to avoid feeling like a blob on Thanksgiving and the best ways to recover if you do.


What Causes Bloating?

Bloating is what happens in your stomach when your gastrointestinal tract fills up with air. When you’re bloated, your abdomen might feel extremely tight and full - like there’s no room left. 

Here are some common culprits of bloating during Thanksgiving


  • Turkey that has been brined will be high in sodium causing you to retain water. 
  • Mashed potatoes are loaded with milk or cream and butter making them difficult to digest for those with lactose intolerance. 
  • Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferments it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloated.
  • Gravy and stuffing are loaded with sodium that can make you retain water. 

There are also many different causes of bloat. Conditions like constipation, reflux, weight gain, and menstruation are all common causes of bloating. But during the holidays it’s usually due to overeating or eating foods we can't tolerate well. 


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8 Tips to Beat the Thanksgiving Bloat

Bloating does not have to be an accepted part of Thanksgiving dinner. There are several different ways you can minimize that post-meal uncomfortable feeling, so you that can enjoy the rest of your holiday. Here are some ideas:


1. Take it Easy With Water

This may seem counterintuitive, but avoid chugging water with your Thanksgiving dinner. Drinking too much water too quickly can cause it to collect in the digestive system causing bloat. Drinking 

To avoid bloating and gas, hydrate slowly throughout the day. Better yet, make drinking more water a habit well before the holidays. That way, your body will be used to the extra hydration and won’t be thrown off on the big day. 

To up your water game, add some lemon to it. This can help neutralize all of the extra acids from the bloating, decreasing the excess water weight.  


2. Eat Sensibly Throughout the Day

Many Thanksgiving enthusiasts skip breakfast and lunch so they can indulge at dinner. If you’re counting calories, this might seem like a good idea. However, fasting earlier in the day will leave you starving by dinner time, meaning you’ll be more inclined to overdo it and experience the inevitable digestive upset. 

Instead, be kind to yourself by eating a sensibly portioned, balanced meal for both breakfast and lunch. You can skip the afternoon snack if you want, and indulge within reason at dinner. 


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3. Get Moving After Dinner

Exercising is probably the last thing you want to do after a large Thanksgiving feast. But even if you just take a quick walk around the block, it could help your body recover more quickly. Light exercise will improve your blood circulation and get your digestive system moving more efficiently. 


4. Build Your Plate Wisely

It’s tempting to skip the salad and go straight for the turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole on Thanksgiving. But if you take the time to eat some vegetables before your meal, you’ll be less likely to eat in excess for the main course. 


5. Avoid Salty Foods After Dinner

wooden spoon with salt

Eating salty foods makes your body hold onto excess water. Salty foods are everywhere during the holidays, like gravy, casseroles, mashed potatoes, and more. If you end up going overboard with salt during Thanksgiving dinner, you can try reducing your salt intake or even consider a light fast the day following Thanksgiving to help your digestive system get caught up and flush out all that excess salt. 


6. Cut Down on Dairy and Sugar

Dairy and sugary products are inflammatory by nature. Therefore, foods with milk, cheese, and added sugars are more likely to cause bloating. Many people lack the necessary digestive enzymes to properly digest milk which results in bloating, gas and


7. Flush That Water Weight Naturally

There are many natural foods and beverages that act as diuretics - meaning they make you pass more urine and help to rid your body of excess water weight. Asparagus, dandelion root, and certain herbal teas can all be great diuretics, which will help you get rid of the post-meal bloat more efficiently. 


8. Consider using Probiotics or Digestive Enzymes

Probiotics like Acidophilus and Bifidus can be helpful to balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut. You need good bacteria to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption. If you decide to go try a probiotic, just don’t take them for the first time on Thanksgiving Day. Your body will need some time to acclimate to the additional bacteria. Some people experience bloating and gas for the first several days taking a probiotic before experiencing overall better digestion. 

Supplemental Digestive Enzymes are another option to help you increase your digestive efficiency. Enzymes are proteins your body uses to break down food into nutrients your body can use. Check out this article to learn the differences between probiotics and digestive enzymes. 


The Bottom Line

It’s so easy to throw caution to the wind and eat recklessly on Thanksgiving. But overdoing it could make you feel awful and put you off to a rough start for the holiday season. Instead, try to be kind to your body by avoiding the Thanksgiving bloat. You’ll thank yourself for it later! 


This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have immediate concerns about your health and digestion, please seek the help of your physician. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.