Beat the bloat this Easter

1 April 2015 by
First published: 31 March 2015

The Easter bunny has made his sneaky, but tasty, little way into our homes once again this month – but don’t worry, we’ve got everything you need to beat the bloat this Easter.

Let’s face it, that foil-covered temptation is everywhere! And we love nothing better than getting stuck into the mounds of choccy eggs we’ve been hoarding for the last few months, not to mention the hearty family Sunday lunch that accompanies the big day.

But all that rich food can play havoc with your tum. The average adult ploughs their way through 6,000 calories on Easter Sunday alone, so it comes as no surprise that many people suffer from digestive issues such as indigestion and bloating.

Try these expert tips from nutritionist Sarah West to keep your tummy happy this Easter:
Little, often and slowly

‘The body finds fat hard to digest, and a large, fattening meal can remain in the stomach for up to two hours while the gastric juices try to break it down, causing an uncomfortable full feeling and bloating,’ says nutritionist Sarah West, ‘Give your digestive process a rest by consuming smaller quantities over the course of the day rather than having one big blow-out.’

And it’s not just about quantity: ‘Many of us eat our food far too quickly, meaning that the saliva in the mouth doesn’t get a chance to start breaking down food in the vital first stage of digestion,’ says Sarah. ‘If food isn’t adequately broken down, this can cause problems further down the line in the form of gas and bloating. Always take the time to chew each bite properly (around 20-30 times). Put your knife and fork down between bites to encourage you to really focus on each mouthful at a time. Your brain is about 10-20 minutes behind your stomach when it comes to registering fullness, so this will also help to avoid unconscious overeating.’

Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is often seen as an appealing or easy way to lose weight, but unfortunately the side-effects are more negative than any benefits, and it can drastically alter the way that our bodies digest food, promoting inadequate nutrition and indigestion.

Sarah says, ‘If you’re prone to indigestion, don’t be tempted to skip meals to save on calories – the stomach is continually producing gastric acid and without food the acid levels rise. Eating helps “mop up” some of that acid, so a healthy snack is better than nothing at all.’ She recommends a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates (such as an oatcake with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts or some vegetables sticks with hummous.

Take a quality probiotic
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases – but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

‘A large quantity of sugary, fatty foods can upset the body’s balance of intestinal flora, promoting the growth of bad bacteria and making you more likely to suffer from unpleasant digestive symptoms,’ says Sarah. ‘Taking a “live” probiotic can help to redress the balance of bacteria and leave you feeling more comfortable. I recommend Symprove ( – its unique formula is clinically proven to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach, unlike many other commercial probiotic formulations, and it has great results for those with irritable bowel syndrome.’

Cook a healthier Easter Sunday dinner
Sunday lunch is usually a big deal (both in quantity and in terms of the arduous preparation). But you don’t need to deprive yourself of this tradition to avoid overdoing it. Sarah says, ‘You can cut calories by choosing white turkey meat and removing the skin, saving about 50 calories per portion. Go easy on the roast potatoes and pile high the unbuttered vegetables – the more vegetables you eat, the less room you’re likely to have for higher-calories alternatives.’

Have healthier chocolate
Is there such thing as healthier chocolate? Yes, there is: antioxidant-rich dark chocolate can actually be good for you. Sarah explains how to eat healthier treats all round: ‘When it comes to dessert, stick to a single portion and swap those big chocolate Easter eggs for a small amount of dark chocolate, perhaps melted over strawberries or just on its own. And swapping from double to single cream will save more than 300 calories per serving and you won’t really be able to taste the difference.’