Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, a time to socialise with family and friends over food and drink. But more than a third of Brits (35%) are left with a bad taste in their mouth as the festive season exacerbates digestive complaints.
In a recent survey commissioned by King Edward VII’s Hospital (2022), as many as two thirds (67%) of adults admit that they suffer from gastric issues including acid reflux, diarrhoea, and indigestion.
Six in 10 (61%) put festive digestive issues down to over indulgence, while half chalked (50%) it down to eating more because of low moods in the winter months. A similar amount (45%) said the stress of Christmas was a factor in overeating.
Alarmingly, the cost-of-living crisis may also be taking its toll on our guts, 41% say that the cost of catering for their dietary requirements has been a barrier to promoting their digestive wellbeing.
More generally over half (59%) said that eating a different variety of foods that they’re not used to as a trigger. In fact, over a quarter (28%) who are usually vegan/vegetarian and had worsening gastric issues attribute their increased symptoms to the fact that they don’t follows these diet choices at Christmas.
Christmas food and drink most likely to cause digestive issues
The top food offenders – which led to symptoms such as bloating – included Brussel sprouts (20%), cream (15%) and Christmas pudding (14%)
Drink is another culprit for stomach complaints, with fizzy drinks (33%), beer (25%) and sparkling wine (16%) all common suspects.
Come January, when the festive season has passed, a quarter (26%) plan to eat more fruit and veg to improve digestive health, a similar number (25%) plan to exercise more, and one in five (20%) plan to cut out sugar.
Stop gastric issues ruining Christmas
King Edward VII’s Hospital colorectal surgeon, Mr James Kinross comments: “Christmas tends to be a time of overindulgence, but this can play havoc on our digestion, particularly for those who already suffer with gastric issues. Eating more than usual, a different variety of foods and drinking more alcohol are all likely to trigger issues such as heartburn, indigestion and may flare up conditions such as IBS.
“Some tactics to help manage gastric issues over the festive season include not overfilling your plates, avoiding drinking fizzy drinks or alcohol whilst eating, and trying to go for a brisk walk once you’ve finished your meal. These simple tricks can help aid digestion and mitigate gastric issues ruining your Christmas spirit.”
- If you’re concerned about any aspect or symptom discussed in this article, speak to your GP who can discuss a range of treatment options with you.
- If you don’t have access to a GP, you can make an appointment with one of our same day private GPs.
- We also have a specialist Gastroenterology Department here at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Central London, that treats paitents suffering with a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions