The holiday season is a time to fellowship with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, going to parties, and enjoying the guilty pleasure of eating traditional rich holidays foods. Unfortunately there is a price to be paid for enjoying holiday fair. Columbia’s Palmetto Health Richland Gastroenterologist Dr. Raj Vasudeva says partaking of these foods can cause the flair up of a number of digestive maladies.
“Unfortunately a lot of our traditional foods are just so high in calories, high in fat. However especially during the holidays people find it quite difficult to give up these tempting goodies.” Vasudeva says these foods can often bring on or aggravate various maladies associated with the digestive system. “They can worsen your acid reflux, if that’s your underlying problem, or irritable bowel syndrome. Also some patients without realizing it actually have underlying lactose intolerance, which is a common problem.”
Vasudeva says a number of common foods can worsen reflux problems such as citrus fruits, chocolate, spicy and tomato based foods, and drinks with caffeine and alcohol.
Vasudeva says a number of foods we enjoy around the holidays contain lactose which is a sugar found most notably in milk, cheeses, and other dairy products. Vasudeva says persons who are lactose intolerant still may enjoy foods containing lactose in moderation if they take one relatively simple step. “You don’t really need to deny yourself the pleasure of milk and milk product intake, all you need to do is get some lactate. It is available over the counter. Try it out. Take two to four pills before you eat a meal or snack and you’ll be surprised how suddenly you feel so much better.”
Vasudeva says the use of lactate will enable a lactose intolerant person to enjoy a slice of pizza or some ice cream once in a while.
Vasudeva says it is often difficult for a person to tell if they are actually lactose intolerant. “It kind of comes on very gradually and people cannot seem to make the connection. They will say “I had some ice cream one day or had some cheese and I didn’t have a problem but today I do.” “History is notoriously inaccurate is trying to pinpoint whether a person in lactose intolerant or not.”
Vasudeva says if a digestive problem like indigestion persists or worsens you need to see a gastroenterologist.
Vasudeva says the speed in which we eat can also adversely affect digestion and also can be a cause of a person becoming overweight. Having traveled around the world and lived among a number of different cultures, Vasudeva says we here in America are notorious for wolfing our food down and not taking the time to savor our food and eat at a leisurely pace which is conducive. to good digestion.
“It’s the fast food mentality of let’s quickly wolf it down and go on doing what we are doing and that is a big problem in thispart of the world. When you east fast you will always end up overeating because it takes a while for the stomach to send the signals to the brain to tell the brain that we are full.”
Vasudeva says to enjoy a meal you should take your time and remember throughout the day to drink at least six to eight glasses of water.