Over-eating Blues

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Beat overindulgence and an uncomfortable stomach

It’s that time of the year again for office parties, festive gatherings and Christmas. We over-eat so much that our bodies beg us to stop. We ignore all the signs till a sharp unforgiving pain in the gut jolts us to our senses.

At New Year festivities, company dinners and dances we overeat, overdrink, talk and eat, laugh and drink, and shout cheers with cake and champagne in our mouths. We dance with full stomachs, dressed in belly-strangling haute couture. Just a few weeks ago we were stressed out getting presents on time and for the right people; fighting crowds and last-minute shoppers.

All this stress, binging, alcohol, gulping in air, wearing tight clothes and dancing with full stomachs, do no favours to your system. You feel bloated and nauseated. Apart from the hangover from the over drinking, you are suffering from a bad case of indigestion.

What is indigestion?

Too much stomach acid causes stomach pains, bloating, excess wind, belching or heartburn. Indigestion is the general term used to describe these symptoms.

To protect itself from the stomach acid, which is as corrosive as car battery fluid, the stomach produces a mucous that lines its inside. If the amount of acid is too much for the mucous to contain, the stomach lining gets inflamed. This results in the pain and discomfort felt as indigestion.

Heartburn or reflux oesophagitis is a form of indigestion. Excess acid gets forced back from the stomach into the food gullet (oesophagus) which, unlike the stomach, doesn’t have a mucous lining. You feel burning in your chest and you have an acid taste at the back of your throat. The pain can be so bad you might think you’re having a heart attack.

What causes acid?

Rich, fatty and spicy food such as chocolates, pickles, curries, sauces, stuffing, mince pies, and puddings and cake, all contribute to acid build up in the stomach. Add to this alcohol, smoking and stress.

12 ways of preventing indigestion

Indigestion and its symptoms can often be prevented or at least minimised by following a few, standard guidelines.

1. Never smoke before or while eating.

Smoking often causes you to swallow small amounts of air, which form air pockets in the digestive tract with the added pressure of food. Smoking also slows the body’s ability to digest food

2. Eliminate certain gas forming foods such as beans, cabbage, cucumbers and onions

3. Eat at a table in an upright, sitting position

4. Go for a small walk after eating, which will help stimulate the digestive system

5. Don’t chew with your mouth open and don’t talk so much during meals, which cause you to swallow air.

6. Never exercise or dance following a large meal

7. Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing

8. Chew food thoroughly and slowly, allowing for a leisurely meal

9. Try not to consume alcohol with food. Drink plenty of water instead

10. Avoid caffeine

11. Add antacids to your Christmas shopping. Antacids neutralise excess stomach acid and help relieve indigestion

12. Eat at least a few hours before going to bed to ensure a silent night

Remedy for relief

If you don’t want to be branded a party pooper there are a number of ways to relieve indigestion.


Many find that consuming ginger with a meal helps to reduce suffering and stomach upset. Fresh ginger can be ground and added to foods or taken in tea or capsule form. Herbalists recommend consuming 500mg of ginger with a full glass of water after each meal.


Enzymes which help to speed the digestive process often eliminate heartburn altogether. Papaya enzymes are sold in chewable capsule form, and are taken immediately following a meal with a full glass of water. Enjoy the fruit itself for dessert.


Consuming more fibre nutrient foods is another natural way to alleviate future suffering. Bulk foods help to absorb excess acid and gas, and allow your body to rid itself of toxins more quickly. For those who respond poorly to high fibre vegetables, fibre pills and beverages are an alternative.

Herbal infusions

Herbal teas containing even trace amounts of peppermint, chamomile, ginger, rosemary, licorice root or catnip help the stomach lining repair itself. Often, one cup of herbal infusion following a meal is enough to keep heartburn and indigestion at bay.


Peppermint Yoghurt and Papaya

Serves 2

3 1/2 tbs fresh peppermint leaves, ground

4 to 8 tbs plain yoghurt

1 ripe papaya, peeled and cubed

Mix the ground peppermint into the yoghurt. Serve a few papaya cubes and a dollop of peppermint yoghurt in individual bowls. Serve cold.

Pear and Ginger Soup

Serves 2

1 Chinese pear, do not peel

15g fresh ginger

3 cups water, boiling

Rock sugar to taste

Cut pear into halves on the cross section and remove core. Place pears into a pot and pour in the boiling water. Add the ginger. Place the pot with the ingredients into a steamer and steam for 20 minutes. Add sugar. Serve warm.

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