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Surviving the Holiday Buffet

FRIDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- It's one of the ironies of the holiday season that a rich meal -- maybe one of your favorites of the whole year -- can leave you feeling mighty poor.

An unsettling meal can lead to nausea, abdominal pain and even symptoms such as fatigue and sadness. Conditions like lactose intolerance or celiac disease also pose their own unique challenges.

"We all love holiday food, but we can't let the buffet get the best of us," Dr. Charlene Prather, a professor of gastroenterology at Saint Louis University, said in a news release from the university. "It's better to enjoy a few delicious dishes that agree with you. Then, you'll truly enjoy other special parts of the season."

A buffet, in fact, can spell a special kind of trouble at holiday time. "We don't want to take too long choosing our food and hold up the line of people waiting behind us. We don't want to hurt the chef's feelings, and we may not realize how large our portions are because the food is served in such large quantities," Prather said. "But for those who have food problems, it's worth it to ask what ingredients are in a dish and take our time choosing what we'll eat."

If you have celiac disease or another kind of gluten-intolerance condition, Prather recommends that you stay away from wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free bread is an alternative, as are potatoes, rice, soy and quinoa.

Prather has other suggestions:

If you're worried about indigestion and upset stomach, watch out for fat and booze. Casseroles with lots of mayonnaise and butter-filled desserts can cause symptoms, so look for dishes with grains, fruits and vegetables instead.

If you have lactose intolerance, you should of course avoid dairy products like milk (except soy milk) and cheese (except for harder cheeses like Swiss and cheddar, which may be softer on your stomach). Also beware of ice cream and cheesecake.

Whatever your limitations, try to find foods that will keep your stomach happy while pleasing your taste buds, too.

More information

Learn more about indigestion from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Saint Louis University Medical Center, press release, Dec. 15, 2010

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