Healing Your Gut During the Holidays
It is so easy for your daily routine to be thrown to the wind during the holidays. Most folks go on vacation this time of year (I just came back from Morocco and drank juice every.single.day) or spend time with family and its very easy for our usual dietary routine to take a backseat. It’s not uncommon for people to deal with inflammation, constipation, or just regular old sluggishness.
First – that is totally okay. Be compassionate with yourself, and allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the holidays! Healthy living is about finding balance, so as long as you aren’t making decisions that leave you feeling horrible for long periods of time, have a plate of seconds and enjoy your dessert.
But when you get back to your normal routine, your digestive system might take a little time to get back to normal. You might have some bloating or be irregular because of the foods you’ve been eating, and that can also be tough. Hopefully, some of the tips in this post can help you nurse your gut back to health in a gentle and natural way.
Side note: I’m not a health professional or a dietician. I am simply someone committed to healthy living and want to share how I nurse my gut back to health after the holidays. If you’re unsure about some of the foods or supplements I recommend, or have food sensitivities, please talk to your doctor before trying something new.
When trying to heal your gut, we will be targeting a few goals:
Restoring healthy gut bacteria
1. You’re probably dehydrated. Most of us are. Yes – you’ll probably find this tip in all of my posts but it’s just that important! So start OD’ing on the water. You can do this by carrying a 32 oz water bottle with you and challenging yourself to finish one every two hours.
2. Add chia seeds to your water. This goes with the first strategy, but its a quick hydration hack. Chia seeds absorb a ton of water and help regulate your body fluid levels and retain electrolytes. They’re a great way to increase hydration and being surprised by a chia seed when you take a sip of water from your water bottle is always fun.
3. Every morning on an empty stomach, drink 8 oz of room temperature water with lemon. I love this one. This has the same effect on my gut as drinking a cup of coffee…if you know what I mean. It has a ton of benefits, but for our purposes today, lemon water kick starts your digestion and helps flush out toxins in your system. When I’m actively cleansing, I drink the room temp lemon water as soon as I wake up, before eating anything else, and I do it consistently for two weeks. It works, trust me.
4. Increase your greens, and decrease animal based products. This one is really important. Greens have a lot of fiber, so upping your vegetables will help you become regular again as well as hydrate you. Consuming animal based proteins alters your gut bacteria, and it does so quickly. Diets heavy on animal products (meat, cheese, etc) are low in fiber and cause large increases in Bilophila, which are the microbes in your gut that love bile. Bilophila may also promote inflammation, which might be why you have stomach aches after large, meat-heavy meals. To bring your gut micro biome back into balance, lay off on the meat for a while.
5. Introduce a probiotic into your diet. This one is amazing. Probiotics have helped my husband manage his IBS and numerous food intolerances. You can consume it in the form of a daily supplement, or you can increase foods such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha (is there a theme here…), yogurt, and even dark chocolate! My personal favorite is making a parfait or smoothie bowl in the morning with some kefir instead of milk. It makes it a little thicker and is also great for you. By the way, kefir is also ok for most people who are lactose intolerant. It has a lot of bacteria that aids lactose digestion (similar to yogurt, but much more!) Of course, talk to your doctor before you jump into any of these foods, especially if you have food sensitivities.
6. Decrease your sugar intake. Lay off the cookies and desserts for a while, and keep an eye on the Starbucks holiday season drinks as well. They’re delicious but loaded with sugar, and could be contributing to inflammation in your body. Instead, try a small square of dark chocolate, or sweeten your tea with honey.
7. Lastly, introduce turmeric in your diet. Turmeric is a super food that has a ton of benefits because of its main active ingredient, curcumin. It has been used as a medicinal herb for a long time and it can be found in most South Asian foods as well. Curcumin helps decrease inflammation, which is critical in healing your digestive system. Costco has turmeric supplement pills that are great for every day, but you might want to consider taking a specific curcumin supplement along with a few peppercorns (black pepper helps amplify the effects and increases absorption in the body.)
Hopefully some of these tips help you heal your gut during this fun and food-filled time of year. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried these tips and how they worked for you. And if there is something that I’ve missed, please share that as well! Understanding our bodies and learning how to heal them naturally (where possible) is important and radical work.