Temptations are everywhere, especially this time of year. While dinners and holiday parties make this time memorable, they often disrupt the healthy routines you created for yourself. This can make eating healthy during the holidays truly challenging.
If you’ve been following The Myers Way® for any amount of time, you know how easy it is to derail your progress. Trust me when I say it happens to all of us from time to time, especially when faced with the stress and indulgences of the holiday season.
Let me bring you some holiday relief when I say it’s not the end of the world if you occasionally splurge on your holiday eating. On the same note, make sure you’re giving your gut a little extra TLC to keep your microbiome balanced. Without this support, those holiday indulgences can wreak havoc on your gut.
Great news! You can still support your gut while enjoying holiday foods. I’m here to give you a few tips on eating healthy during the holidays. Before I do, however, let’s talk about foods that are sure to make an appearance during your holiday party.
Holiday Eating and Your Gut
Eating healthy during the holidays can seem almost impossible with the abundance of cocktails and desserts. These holiday treats are filled with ingredients like sugar, gluten, and dairy.
The problem is that regular consumption of these ingredients leaves you susceptible to inflammation and gut infections, including Candida overgrowth, leaky gut, or SIBO. This can also happen with paired with holiday stress and anxiety,
Now that you have a bird’s eye view of the issue, let’s talk more about how these foods can turn holiday eating into gut health issues.
Even if you’re not a social drinker, holiday celebrations can tempt you to indulge in a few glasses of wine or a festive cocktail. Harmless as it sounds, even a single episode of overindulging (having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08g/dL or more) can cause a leaky gut. It also significantly increases the toxin load in your bloodstream. 1
Remember, alcohol is a toxin. Not only can it give you those awful next-day hangovers, but alcohol is essentially liquid sugar. Most beer is made from wheat or yeast, which contains gluten. Gluten is a highly inflammatory food and should be avoided by anyone looking to heal their gut. I’ll talk more about that in just a minute.
If you choose to celebrate with alcohol, stick with clear liquor like gluten-free vodka mixed. You can even mix it with soda water to give it some character. The key is to limit yourself to one drink a day for women, and two for men. This is the amount of alcohol that your body can safely process.
Sweet treats made with refined sugar are everywhere. It may seem impossible to eat healthy during the holidays with so many goodies available. One solution is to make your own treats with natural sweeteners, like stevia, honey, or maple syrup. These are great ways to stay on track with eating healthy during the holidays.
Like alcohol, refined sugar is an inflammatory food that can cause leaky gut. It can also put you on the path to autoimmune disease. 2 Sugary foods and beverages lead to increased production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This causes oxidative stress and spikes inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP). Inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease. Yes, I’m talking about Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sugar also can alter bacterial communities in your gut. This means it can influence which types of bacteria get to reside in the gut, as well as how much. When sugar disrupts this balance, it affects your weight and causes a whole host of microflora issues.3 Another problem with sugar is that it directly fuels Candida overgrowth, contributing to its own host of health issues.
Gluten and Dairy
Other dreaded ingredients hidden in holiday foods include gluten and dairy. Traditional holiday foods like eggnog, gingerbread, and stuffing are made with gluten and dairy. These are two foods I recommend everyone remove from their diets.
Gluten likes to hide in holiday foods like cookies, breads, cakes, and crackers. The issue here is that refined flour can spike your blood sugar and disrupt your delicate gut balance. This creates a breeding ground for Candida to flourish.
These gluten-filled treats often contain dairy as well, which is inflammatory for many. Even if you aren’t lactose intolerant, you might still be sensitive to casein and whey, two proteins found in cow’s dairy. Why would this be the case?
Casein has the same molecular structure as gluten. That is why most people who have a gluten sensitivity also have a dairy sensitivity. If you want to stay on track with eating healthy during the holidays, it’s best to completely avoid gluten and dairy altogether.
So what happens if you get off track while eating healthy during the holidays? Don’t worry, there is hope. Let’s discuss what you can do if you’ve overindulged in your holiday eating.
What To Do If You Get Off Track
Overindulging during the holiday season can leave you feeling out of whack afterward. The good news is that you can take the following steps to recover quickly and get yourself back on track eating healthy during the holidays.
1. Get Rid of the Gluten, Dairy, and Toxic Foods
If you continue to eat gluten, sugar, or dairy, your immune system can become overly stressed. Think about it: each bite of yeast bread, bagels, dairy, and sugar inflames the body more and more. The quicker you can get all of it out of your system, the better you’ll feel. Here are my tried and true methods for supporting healthy digestion:
Digestive enzymes help speed up the breakdown and absorption of macronutrients. I formulated mine to be the best of the best. I made sure Complete Enzymes were specifically designed for those of you with digestive issues. It’s also perfect for food sensitivities and nutrient absorption challenges. These enzymes break down everything from protein to carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. They even help your body better utilize vegetable fibers.
Activated charcoal is famous for binding to toxins, but it serves another helpful role as well. It helps reduce gas and bloating, especially after you consume gluten, dairy, and sugar. Activated charcoal is a great idea if you’ve eaten inflammatory foods and helps “mop up” the toxic aftermath. My Coconut Charcoal can also help to bind to irritating proteins like casein and gluten.
Another great toxin-binding product to support your eating healthy during the holidays is Gut ImmunIG™. This dairy-free colostrum alternative is a rich source of gut-healing protein. It works by binding to potentially toxic antigens in the digestive tract. This helps support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. It also provides immunoglobulins that promote intestinal balance. It is also free of allergens, dyes, or artificial ingredients.
2. Decrease Inflammation
Inflammation happens when your body perceives a threat or injury. In other words, it’s your natural defense system. However, chronic inflammation can cause an array of gut issues over time. Here are measures you can take to facilitate a healthy inflammatory response after holiday eating.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil is the world’s best and most bioavailable source of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA & DHA. These polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids promote the production of inflammation-mediating proteins such as eicosanoids, proteins, resolvins, and more.
Complete Omega-3 Softgels are pharmaceutical grade, GMP certified, and 3rd-party tested by Eurofins. Complete Omega-3 Softgels are the purest, highest-potency fish oil supplement available on the market today.
Turmeric is a root or rhizome plant native to India. The most bioactive of the active ingredients in turmeric is curcumin.
Curcumin makes up 90% of the curcuminoid content in turmeric, even though turmeric is only around 5% of curcuminoids by weight. Many turmeric supplements have low percentages of these bioactive compounds. They’re also poorly absorbed. Whatever is absorbed is usually immediately metabolized by your liver.
My physician-formulated Liposomal Curcumin is the most bioavailable form of curcumin available on the market. It’s ideal for supporting a healthy inflammatory response and fighting free radicals. By combining this with a few other ingredients, you can enjoy one of my favorite immune-promoting elixirs all season long!
3. Repair Your Gut
This may be the third step, but it’s the most important! Nearly 80% of our immune system is in our gut, so having a healthy gut is crucial for optimal health. Even if you’ve got off track eating healthy during the holidays just once, it’s essential to repair your gut. The 4R approach is a proven method I have used with thousands of patients for gut repair.
The goal here is to get rid of things that contribute to gut inflammation. These triggers include infections, foods, alcohol, caffeine, or medications. Gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar can also lead to food sensitivities. For this stage, doing an elimination diet can help determine if you have a sensitivity to any particular foods.
Once you eliminate triggering foods, it’s time to restore a healthier digestive tract. Adding digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to your daily routine assists your body’s intestinal walls. It also facilitates a healthy inflammation response. They are two of the most critical components of gut health restoration I recommend to all my patients.
Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. Taking a probiotic supplement that contains bifidobacteria and lactobacillus can help. I recommend anywhere from 25 -100 billion units per day.
Next, give your gut the nutrients it needs to reduce inflammation and continue healing. My most powerful weapon for gut repair is Leaky Gut Revive®. It contains powerful gut-repairing l-glutamine, aloe, licorice, arabinogalactan, slippery elm, and marshmallow root.
Of course, the best way to eat healthy during the holidays is to be prepared. That’s why I want to give you a few tips to stay on track with holiday eating.
Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holidays
Now you know what foods to avoid while eating healthy during the holidays, let’s discuss how you can avoid the temptations that come with the holidays! Here are a few tips to help you this holiday season.
Make Your Own Food
If you’re going to a holiday party and want to eat healthy during the holidays, the best way to do that is to make your own food to take with you.
These are my go-to dessert recipes that are tasty and full of high-quality protein and natural ingredients. I’m sure you’re asking yourself – how do I make it myself yet also save time? My protein powders serve as an easy base for many great high-protein desserts that taste delicious and are beneficial for your body.
Indulge in something sweet, like a gluten-free cookie or these Peppermint Brownie Bites. Experiment with new recipes. Show your loved ones that gluten-free, dairy-free cooking can be delicious. If you have an autoimmune disease, these recipes can be adapted to an autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet.
Be Mindful of Sugar, Gluten, and Alcohol
It’s easy for your gut health to go downhill if you’re indulging in sugary treats, starchy foods, and alcoholic drinks all season long. If you’ve finished a 30-day protocol and reintroduced some foods, then maybe your body can tolerate small amounts of these foods. However, they’re still toxic!
At this time of year, moderation is key when it comes to sugar and alcohol. If you have gut infections such as Candida overgrowth or SIBO, avoid these foods. Remember, sugar and alcohol can feed the Candida and make your condition worse. Mocktails are a great substitute for alcoholic drinks during the holidays.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
It’s okay to have the occasional sweet treat or drink. If you do give into temptation, however, remember that moderation is key. This may set you back a bit, but remember there are ways to speed up your recovery so you can get back on track. Use the steps I mentioned earlier to recover faster from the occasional holiday indulgence.
Eating healthy during the holidays can be challenging. After all, we are only human. The temptations are higher than usual this time of year. Now you have the tools you need to be successful in eating healthy during the holidays. Celebrate that you can stay committed to your health and still enjoy the holiday season!
- Single episode of binge drinking adversely affects health. Jim Fessenden . UMass Chan Medical School. 2014.
- Fructose: A Dietary Sugar in Crosstalk with Microbiota Contributing to the Development and Progression of Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease. Jessica Lambertz, et al.. National Library of Medicine. 2017.
- Role of “Western Diet” in Inflammatory Autoimmune Diseases. Arndt Manzel, Dominik N. Muller, et al.. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014.
- High-Glucose or -Fructose Diet Cause Changes of the Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Disorders in Mice without Body Weight Change. Moon Ho Do, Eunjung Lee, et al. National Library of Medicine. 2018.
- Cutaneous Manifestations of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Clinical Histological and Immunopathological Features. Veronica Bonciolini, Beatrice Bianchi, et al.. National Library of Medicine. 2015.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity triggers gut dysbiosis, neuroinflammation, gut-brain axis dysfunction, and vulnerability for dementia. Mak Adam Daulatzai. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2015.
- The Overlap between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: A Clinical Dilemma. Archita Makharia, Carlo Catassi, Govind K Makharia. National Library of Medicine. 2015.