The holiday season can be the hardest time of year to manage your gut health, I've been there myself with IBS...
But it doesn't have to be!
Here are my top 10 tips for keeping your gut healthy this holiday season:
1. Make gut-friendly swaps. Many of the foods found in a classic Christmas meal are perfectly good for your gut, including carrots, brussels sprouts, potatoes, and more. Refined foods and desserts are where the opportunities for swaps can be found! Instead of indulging in regular chocolate, try switching it for dark!
If you're looking to get into the kitchen and bake, search for some refined/sugar-free recipes - trust me, there are plenty out there! As always, trust your intuition, find the next best, and don't let the situation over-ride you with stress.
2. If you're suffering from a gut issue, as you'll have heard from me by now, cutting out alcohol is my first recommendation. The Christmas that I had IBS I didn't drink a drop (you can do with that information what you will). If you are looking to drink alcohol, however, these are my recommendations: red wine, dry white wine, cider, and spirits in their purest form (vodka, gin, whisky, tequila, etc.). Beer, flavoured spirits, and liqueurs fall on the "no-go" side for me.
3. Stay hydrated. What it says on the tin... don't forget to get some water down you in the midst of all the chaos!
4. Improve digestion and avoid flare-ups. Supplements like digestive enzymes, apple cider vinegar, ginger, turmeric, and similar blends can be taken before meals. If you suffer from a flare-up, my go-to's are mint and fennel tea, lemon and ginger tea, peppermint oil, cayenne pepper and turmeric (cooked into meals), cucumber, and yogurt.
5. Stay active! Although much of the festive period is spent static, try to get active whether that be yourself or with your friends and family. Go for a walk, continue exercising on the surrounding days, and start the day with a good stretch and some movement.
6. Relax. Do not, I repeat... do not let the stress of managing your gut over-ride the festive period. Sometimes you'll have to accept the "next best", and others you might deviate from what you otherwise know to be "good for your gut". That's okay, all is not lost. If you decide to consume something and riddle yourself with guilt it's a lose-lose. If you're going to consume it, enjoy the moment, let it satisfy you, and soldier on ready to fight another day!
7. Plan ahead. Preparation is everything! For all of the tips listed here, a level of planning is required to either stock up or carve out some time to support your gut. Don't wait until you're caught on the back foot. Make a plan so that you can kick back and enjoy yourself.
8. Practice moderation! Something that I want you to consider; going overboard isn't actually going to make your time more enjoyable. This is for two reasons... guilt (mind) and discomfort (body). If you practice moderation and enjoy yourself without setting yourself back, your mind and body will thank you for it.
9. Continue fasting. Fast in the early hours of the day and your gut will thank you for it. Your gut might take a beating from the types of food you're eating or the quantities that you're eating them. Give your body time to digest, process, and tidy up after itself in the morning, ready for the day's festivities.
10. Get back on track the moment that it's all over. No matter what happens, wipe the slate clean and start fresh when the dust settles... hopefully with a smile on your face.