Family at christmas around the table

Top Tips for Digestive Troubles


Written by: CDHF

Updated: November 16th, 2022

Gas, bloating, heartburn (or reflux), constipation, and diarrhea are common digestive troubles that we many of us experience from time to time. Especially around the holidays when you are eating foods you don’t regularly consume and in larger portions. These are familiar symptoms that many people experience during these days of celebration. However, if you have a bloated belly, or are living with heartburn more than once a week, you may find yourself searching desperately for some relief.  CDHF is here to help with our top tips for common digestive troubles. 

First things first, let’s define these common digestive troubles.

Bloating and distension are often used interchangeable, but they are different.

Bloating: is the feeling of fullness

Distension:  visible expansion of the gut (the actual measurable increase in the stomach’s size).

Gas: can include flatulence (farting) or burping.

Refluxthe backward flow of stomach acid into the tube that connects your throat to your stomach (esophagus). During an episode of acid reflux, you might feel a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn). This can cause damage to the esophagus, mouth and sinus irritation, chronic cough.

Heartburn: Heartburn is a symptom of reflux, an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest that can move up your neck and throat.

Constipation is the passing of hard stool and/or a bowel movement less than every 3 days.

Diarrhea: is the passing of soft stool and/or more than 3 bowel movements a day.

So how do we know what’s “normal”?

Feeling bloated (the feeling of fullness) after eating is usually not a cause for concern, as it is a normal part of the digestive process. Distention – which is the visible expansion of the stomach, is also very normal. Our stomachs will naturally expand throughout the day as we eat. However, when either bloating or distention is accompanied by discomfort and pain, that is when there can be a cause for concern, and there are some changes you can make to potentially help.

When it comes to flatulence (gas), the average person passes gas about 13-21 times a day, and we produce about 2L of gas in one day total. When it becomes distressing, affects your quality of life, or causes pain, that is when you would want to talk to your doctor.  

For reflux or heartburn, it is very common for someone to experience this occasionally after a big dinner or a holiday meal due to pressure in our stomach. If however, it occurs weekly – that is when you would want to speak to your doctor.

Lastly, when it comes to diarrhea or constipation, it can be a common ailment that everyone suffers from occasionally. If, however, it lasts for weeks, is associated with pain, or there is a sudden onset, it can indicate a problem that would require you to speak to your doctor.

What are some tips for managing these common digestive troubles?

Top Tips for Managing Bloating

Top tips for Reducing Flatulence (Gas):

Tips for Reducing Constipation:

Top Tips for Managing Heartburn/Reflux:

If you are looking for more information on the subject, watch Andrea Hardy, RD’s and Kristina Campbell M.Sc’s presentation on Demystifying Digestive Issues.

As always, consult your Health Care Provider for specific strategies to meet your personal needs.

For information and education purposes, not intended to replace the advice of a Health Care Professional.

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