Super Bowl Sunday is only hours away. It’s time to remember that your digestive tract is quite a sensitive mechanism and a little too many nachos, hot dogs and glasses of beer can send your stomach into a tailspin; you may even wake up in the middle of the night (after game day) and wish you had just stayed home.

In an e-mail interview for Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Dr. Cynthia Yoshida offers some tips on how you can enjoy the game and sleep well that night.

Yoshida, a gastroenterologist and author of No More Digestive Problems, says, “The classic Super Bowl party is stocked with two things: beer and greasy food. The most common mistake we make is overindulging. Before, during and after the game, our plates are piled with salty, high-fat, mega-calorie foods that can wreak havoc on our digestive health.”

Yoshida points out that it’s not just spicy foods that can cause you pain and discomfort. Food low in fiber and high in fat can be culprits. It takes longer to digest pizza, nachos, chips and dip. The result: heartburn and a bloated, cramping sensation.

No Super Bowl party is complete without a refrigerator stocked with bottles of adult beverage.
But remember that while you may think beer is quenching your thirst and filling your body with much-needed liquid, in reality, the opposite is happening. “Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating. This may not be intuitively obvious because alcoholic beverages are liquids,” says Yoshida. “But alcohol inhibits the release of antidiuretic hormone; the kidneys don’t conserve water as well, and you urinate more.” Yoshida suggests you drink alcohol in moderation and make sure you’re drinking enough water. Try to drink a bottle of water after each beer. Another problem with alcohol is stomach irritation, or gastritis. Alcohol also intensifies heartburn and acid reflux.

If you want to supply foods that are easier on the digestive system, Yoshida suggests hummus instead of sour cream or cream cheese-based dips. Try guacamole and low-fat chips or pita triangles. Avocado contains “good fat.” If you want pizza, try a pie with broccoli and other vegetables on top. Tuscan bean soup can be substituted for chili. “And definitely have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand,” adds Yoshida.

According to Yoshida, too much nachos and beer can cause bloating and constipation. Cheese, meat and processed foods often have little or no fiber and can slow digestion.

It’s tough to stay away from that Super Bowl snack bowl. That’s where discipline is key. Yoshida says, “During that three hour period, the snack bowl seems endless and many listen to their mouth instead of their stomach. Try to stay away from frequently grabbing handfuls of snacks and, instead, make a single plate of the snacks you want. You’ll be more conscious of serving sizes.”

If you’re the active type, “It’s best to ease into exercise after an eventful night with a brisk walk to get your body feeling super again. And if you’re feeling irregular and bloated, try a gentle product like MiraLAX. It’s safe to use and doesn’t cause the harsh side effects that may come to mind when people think of the word ‘laxative,’” says Yoshida.
Her advice for those rooting for the Steelers or the Packers: “Drink responsibly, eat in moderation and most of all…have fun!”