Thanksgiving dinner, your house: After downing a couple of helpings of turkey and stuffing, your stomach gives a firm nuh-uh to that slice of. A voice in your head has another idea, replying, “but today’s a holiday, you have to eat it.” After you consume the last delicious bite, your stomach gets revenge in the worst way: with a monster food baby spilling over your jeans.
Belly bloat is your body’s way of saying, “you stuffed me,” Keri Gans, RD, a New York City nutritionist, tells Health. This can be hard to avoid during holidays, when stuffing yourself is expected. Bloating can also be triggered by eating something your stomach doesn’t agree with, chowing down too quickly, and fasting all day and then indulging in a huge meal, all of which are encouraged on Turkey Day, says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.
The bloat can last up to 24 hours, totally putting a damper on yourplans. It’s best to try to prevent bloating before it happens, but if the damage is already done and you don’t want to be asked when your due date is, these easy tips will help you recover fast.
Many Thanksgiving dishes (you know who you are, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie) are loaded with sodium, which makes your body hang onto excess water and leaves your entire body, not just your middle, feeling distended. Downing lots of H20 after the meal will help flush out the sodium and help shrink your stomach, says Sass.
Get off the couch
If you and your muffin top just want to sink into the sofa after dinner, we hear you. Though it may be the last thing you feel like doing after a long day of eating, getting up and burning off some of those calories could help take the pressure off your tummy and stimulate your digestive system. Gans recommends going for a walk Thanksgiving evening—even 15 minutes will help—or doing a yoga or spin class the next day.
Eat breakfast the next morning
“If you overate on Thanksgiving and feel terrible, the best thing you can do is resume healthy eating the following day,” Gans says. “Make sure you have a nutritious and well-balanced breakfast as opposed to having a poor-choice breakfast.” Gans suggests filling, energizing dishes high in protein and complex carbs, like scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast or oatmeal and almond butter.
Snack on a banana or avocado slices
If drinking lots of water doesn’t seem to be getting rid of the beached whale feeling, try foods rich in potassium—a mineral that prompts excess fluids to exit your system, says Sass. Bananas, oranges, pistachios, avocados, and a holiday staple, sweet potatoes, are super options.
Sip hot tea
Drinking a cup of hot tea can relax the muscles in your GI tract and alleviate the gas that could be causing you to feel puffed up and crampy. Sass recommends mint-flavored tea, which can also help if your Thanksgiving feast has left you feeling nauseous.
Go with high-fiber foods
If you want that belly bulge to work its way out of your body, look to fiber-packed foods, which get your digestive tract moving. Whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables are the way to go. Just don’t overdo it; Gans says that eating fiber can have a reverse effect and cause even more bloating if you consume too much.
Give your stomach a break
It can be tempting to keep eating if you are surrounded by lots of leftovers—and lots of pushy relatives egging you to chow down for a second round. But if you’re not actually hungry, this is the worse possible thing to do when you’re feeling backed up.
“If you have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, don’t find yourself grabbing a midnight snack; be done with it,” Gans says. Remind yourself that the leftover pie will still be in the fridge the next day, and promise yourself you’ll enjoy a slice in the afternoon when your stomach is back to its normal size.