Eating over the holidays can be super stressful for those struggling with gut issues. Fortunately, a little planning can go a long way in helping you to enjoy upcoming social gatherings.
In this blog post, I share 6 easy tips for managing gut issues during the holiday season.
Over consuming fatty foods can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, and heartburn/reflux. Common examples of fatty foods are: fried foods, high fat red meats, creamy sauces, gravies, buttered veggies, and high fat desserts.
Caffeine is a common food trigger for those with gut issues. Caffeine stimulates the gut causing urgency with bowel movements, and typically leads to diarrhea / loose stools along with heartburn and reflux. Common sources of caffeine include coffee, teas, chocolate, and sodas.
Alcohol is a popular beverage, especially this time of year. Unfortunately, alcohol is a frequent contributer to gut issues like loose stools (often the next day), fat malabsorption, reflux, and bloating & gas (commonly with beer). Sources of alcohol include wine, liquor and beer.
I’m sure many of you with gut issues have been at one time or another to limit roughage in your diet. Although fiber is incredibly important for our overall health, some may struggle with having too much fiber in their diet (side note: if this is you, you may want to have a stool analysis to see if any imbalances in your gut are contributing to your intolerance with fiber!).
Roughage is also known as insoluble fiber (typically found in fruits and veggies with thick skins) and passes through our gut largely intact: potato skins, apple skins, wheat bran or bran cereal, most whole grains (quinoa, bulger), etc.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is less of an irritant to your gut and can actually be beneficial in controlling loose stools by forming a gel when mixed with liquid. Think of the inside of your fruits and vegetables as soluble fiber sources: avocado, banana, apple sauce, oats, potato without skin, etc.
Since our bodies lack enzymes to break down all types of fiber, it goes in and comes out as an undigested carbohydrate. We do not break down fibrous foods any more than we chew them however, with the help of gut microbes they are fermented.
As such, people frequently complain of diarrhea, abdominal pain or bloating, and gas with too much roughage. Foods highest in roughage are salads, raw veggies, nuts, whole grains like quinoa, and fruits & veggies with thick skins.
You may want to consider adding digestive enzymes with meals to assist with breaking down tough fibers. Check out products like Bean Assist or VeggieGest by Enzymedica (which both can easily be ordered from my online dispensary).
Most of us, all year round, eat too much sugar. The average American consumes up to 82 grams of added sugar daily while it is recommended women keep added sugar intake to just 25 grams/day.
Too much sugar in your diet will drive inflammation in your gut AND can increase your risk for a whole host of other chronic diseases. Too much sugar consumed in a small amount of time can draw water into the bowel causing diarrhea and also leads to abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and fatigue.
Common sources of added sugar include: soda, tonic water, sugar sweetened beverages like lemonade and sweet tea, candy, cookies and other desserts, canned cranberry sauces, cereals, flavored yogurts, sweetened milk substitutes (almond, soy, coconut milk).
Pay attention to your eating behaviour, how you eat your food is just as important as what you eat. Are you a fast eater? Are you done before everyone else is? Chew your food well and eat your food slowly. Consider your whole environment and how it affects you while your eating.
If you’ve got an inkling that certain foods contribute to your digestive issues but haven’t been able to figure out exactly what those foods are, then it’s worth exploring the option of food sensitivity testing. In my practice, I help clients incorporate an elimination diet with these results which often provides the much-needed relief they’ve been looking for.
If you’re committed to your health and would like to invest time in getting to the bottom of your digestive issues, then you can schedule a complimentary consult with me to learn more.
I hope these tips have guided you in your thinking about how to approach the holidays if you’re struggling with gut issues. These small, simple steps will likely make a positive impact on how you feel as you navigate through this season.
I wish you a wonderful holiday season full of fun, laughter, connection, and good memories had with your friends & family!