Happy Christmas! It’s officially silly season meaning you’ve made it through another year, and now you’re gearing up to celebrate with dear family and friends.
As you prepare gifts, menus, and decorations there’s another item you should be making preparations for – your gut health!
Nothing messes with your enjoyment of a christmas party faster than gastrointestinal distress. Even if you’re lucky enough that your time with family and friends isn’t interrupted with trips to the bathroom, sitting in physical discomfort while trying to converse with your loved ones isn’t the holiday experience anyone wants.
Whether you regularly experience issues with your gut health, you only experience digestion discomfort during big holiday meals, or you haven’t had discomfort and want to take care of your digestive health and avoid any issues this year, this is the article for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep track of what you’re eating and doing before, during, and after a holiday meal so that you can enjoy this special time of year in peace and comfort.
Remember Gut Health of Years Past
The greatest indicator for how to take care of your gut this year is how your gut reacted to foods last year. What foods did you have last year that ended up negatively affecting your gut? Which foods for gut health improved the situation?
Swap out those options for something known to be good for the gut such as resistant starch foods and fibrous foods (more on those later). Avoid the foods that cause you problems in the first place whether you’ve noticed that during the holidays or year-round.
If you’re not sure which foods have been the culprit in the past, these are the top contenders for worst foods for gut health and digestion:
- Fried foods
- Artificial sugar
- Spicy foods
If you’ve had gut problems on previous holidays and partaken in any of these foods, it’s smart to limit some or all of them this year.
If you suffer from IBD [Inflammatory Bowel Diseases], you should definitely discuss options with a specialised nutritionist, as IBD’s are often overlooked and much serious than IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] or Celiac Disease. These three conditions have similar symptoms but have different causes, and treatment is also different.
Making sure you drink plenty of water is essential to solving so many health issues. It has multiple health benefits and will help you keep a healthy gut.
By drinking lots of water, you encourage your body to rid itself of waste more regularly. It also makes the process of going to the bathroom easier.
The more water you have flowing through your veins, the easier it is for the nutrients from your food to reach all points of your body. So, water helps the good food get its job done, and it helps quickly flush out toxins and irritants from the food that’s hurting your gut health.
In the long term, dehydration can really mess with your gut. You end up with an overly acidic stomach, ulcers, kidney stones, heartburn, and long-term constipation. Proper hydration helps flush out bad bacteria in the stomach so that good bacteria can thrive.
On average, you should aim to consume about half your body weight in ounces of water every day. However, keep in mind that there are outside factors on the holidays that require more water drinking. You’re likely enjoying more caffeine and alcohol than your typical routine, and both of those are dehydrating. Make up for it by drinking some extra water.
Balance Your Gut Before You Begin
There are ways to better prepare your gut for the holiday feast. By preparing your stomach beforehand, you can worry less about avoiding certain foods because you’ll know that your stomach is equipped to handle them.
Plan a light breakfast on a day of holiday eating that includes Greek yoghurt or kefir. They’re full of healthy, active, beneficial bacteria that will line the stomach, and help ease digestion later. They’ve even been proven to reduce bloating! Also, to keep a healthy gastrointestinal tract, alongside beneficial gut bacteria, you need to keep in mind the option of adding dietary fiber rich foods like oats, and any prebiotic foods and probiotic foods you know that work for you, to your breakfast.
Here are some breakfast recipes for Greek yoghurt to kickstart some inspiration for your holiday mornings!
Balance Your Gut Afterwards
After the meal, follow up with more helpful bacteria and other digestive aids such as a wheatgrass shot, apple cider vinegar or fermented foods.
Wheatgrass helps break down food and detoxifies which can reduce bloating, gas, and stomach upset.
Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is full of healthy bacteria that keep your gut working properly. It can aid with indigestion and heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid.
Keep an eye out on the Buddalife website and social media pages for our wheatgrass and apple cider vinegar products launching soon…
Plan An Activity Post Dinner
Have you ever felt bloated until you got up and took a walk? That’s because gentle exercise to keep the body moving helps aid in digestion.
You can make sure to get exercise after your meal by planning an activity for afterwards and making it a tradition. Consider taking a walk around the neighbourhood to see holiday decorations. Have a small dance party with your family. An after-dinner game of charades is always fun. The options are endless.
Just hold off about two hours before you do anything vigorous. A walk right away is fine, but don’t go for your jog until later.
Choose Small Portions
It makes sense when you’re presented with a beautiful meal prepared by close family and friends that you’d want to try it all! But people tend to get themselves into trouble when they try to take a normal-sized portion of every single thing on the table.
Instead, take small bites of everything. You only need a taste in order to enjoy every aspect of the meal. Take a small spoonful of everything and you’re sure to have a filling meal without feeling like you have to finish a massive amount of food on your plate.
Remember also… you don’t HAVE to take everything. Consider having a healthy balance and take the foods that will be the most delicious, satisfying, and considered gut health food.
Utilise Resistant Starch Foods
You can experience a better meal for a healthy microbiome by utilizing resistant starch foods.
While many of the carbohydrates you eat such as pasta, rice, and potatoes contain starch, not all of them contain resistant starch.
Resistant starch functions similarly to fibre by feeding good gut bacteria and binding your waste together to make it easier to pass out of your body. Keep an eye out at your holiday meals for these resistant starch foods:
- Brown rice
- Cooled potatoes
- Cooled sweet potatoes
The longer that these foods have to cool the more resistant starch they’ll regain after losing it in the cooking process, helping the trillions of bacteria in your gut.
Minimize Sugar Intake By Choosing Between Sugar and Drinks
Both sugar and alcohol can wreak havoc on your gut. It’s recommended that adults have no more than 30g of added sugar a day. At holiday parties you’re probably taking in a lot more by drinking alcohol before and during the meal… an aperitif here and a glass of wine there.
You’re also going to be offered treats on trays, pies after meals, granny’s special pudding, and plenty of other sugary treats. During a night of fun, it can be hard to keep up with how much you’ve had or should have.
You can cut down on your sugar intake by choosing between drinks and dessert. Switch it up for each holiday event that way you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything for the whole holiday season.
For the family gathering, indulge in that sweet tooth and have a reasonable amount of special family desserts. You can use the small portions rule here too. Find a buddy who’s willing to split desserts with you so that you can get just a small yet satisfying taste of all your favourite desserts present.
For the adult party, opt for drinks and make sure to remain as hydrated as possible. Every other time there’s a drink in your hand it should be water. You can skip the desserts at these events because they’ll have less sentimental value to you. Half the sweetness of a sugar treat comes from the knowledge of who made it and how (with love). Also, staying hydrated and avoiding sugary, acidic drinks will help you keep that pesky acid reflux in place!
Focus on Fibre
Just like knowing the resistant starch options on the table, knowing which foods contain helpful fibre can be great for finding gut health food at the holiday table.
You should be aware of your fibre intake on a daily basis because it’s one of the most essential components of a diet for gut health. Without a good level of fibre in your system, you may experience inflammation, discomfort, and other major gastrointestinal issues.
Unfortunately, the most fibrous foods aren’t always on display at the holiday table. They include:
- Whole grains
- Fresh Fruit
So how can you be sure to include them? Before many holiday meals, the host will put out light snacks and refreshments. While everyone else goes for the cheeseboard, you can focus on the mixed nuts.
Broccoli might be available as part of a roasted veggie mix. Potatoes are always a major part of holiday meals so it shouldn’t be too hard to find them. Fresh fruits can be somewhat substituted by fruit juice. It’s just smarter to have the roasted potatoes over the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows.
Try Remedies Focused on Maintaining Gut Health
Keeping your gut happy shouldn’t just be an occasional objective. You can implement supplements and remedies into your diet to help maintain a healthy gut all year round. There are a number of different options on the market that are developed specifically for gut health and digestion.
Buddahealth offers a range of gut health products such as the Buddahealth Lions Mane that aids digestion, the Buddahealth Mushroom Blend that helps provide a healthy digestion process whilst boosting the immune system, and the Buddahealth Probiotics which contains 4 billion friendly bacteria in each capsule.
These remedies are simple additions to your daily routine. Always ensure to consult a trusted physician before adding any supplements into your diet.
Happy Holidays and Peace to Your Gut
By following these tips and keeping in mind the best foods for your gut, you’re sure to have happy holiday gatherings all season long. Be conscious of what you choose to avoid, prepare smaller portions for yourself, and make sure to prep with fibre, resistant starch, and good bacteria.