Every year, we use Christmas as an excuse to stuff ourselves to the point where we feel like we're about to burst. The bloating we feel is due to the pressure caused by gas or air in our stomach and chest resulting in abdominal pains, a common occurrence during the festive season.

What exactly is overeating doing to our bodies and how do we best avoid the Christmas bloat?

1. Slow your eating

Your fat cells release the hormone leptin to warn us to stop eating when we are full. The faster you eat, the less time your brain has to register the feeling of fullness. Your stomach can stretch to the volume of about one litre with your Christmas meal and produces acid to break down the food.

Too much food means more acid which can lead to heartburn. Eat slowly and keep some antacids on standby to neutralise the acid.

2. Avoid the fizz

When you eat a large meal your stomach fills to capacity pushing against your organs making you feel full. We gulp air when we swallow but our food also produces gases when it breaks down.

Add fizzy drinks to the equation and you’ll feel like you are about to pop. Belch and pass wind whenever possible to release the gases and discomfort from overeating.

3. Reduce the stress

Keep stress to a minimum as anxiety can lead to increased bloat. Anxiety shuts down a part of the brain that handles digesting foods.

Our body pumps out stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which inhibit the digestive system creating an environment where foods end up being digested poorly, leading to the creation of gas and bloating.

If the in-laws stress you out at this time of year, don’t invite them!

4. Check your dentures

Evidence shows people whose dentures aren’t secure tend not to chew their food properly. Eating quickly can cause air swallowing that leads to bloating.

A quick trip to your dentist to check your fitting would be advised or invest in stronger denture adhesive to secure them.

5. Avoid smoking

Smoking has been linked to the causes of not only lung cancer but Bowel Cancer too. Long-term smokers are more likely to develop and die from Bowel Cancer.

Chemicals in cigarettes weaken the lower oesophageal sphincter – the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach that keeps stomach contents from flowing back into the oesophagus – leading to heartburn and excess gas. Quit the cigarettes as part of your New Year’s resolution to create a healthier you.

Did you know…

The average adult consumes 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat in one Christmas meal.

A 72kg person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles to burn off those calories.