Gut Health and the Holidays.

All that rich food. All those yummy drinks. All those amazing desserts.

All literally gut-wrenching for some of us.

Christmas doesn’t have to derail us so that we suffer gut pain and bloating afterward. Here are some things that work for me and help my gut work more efficiently, so far. In January, I think I am going to try the Wahls-Protocol diet and see if it acts as a reset for me. But in the meantime, here is what I do when I am having one of my best days without nausea, bloating, gas or pain. All of these are easy to implement over the holiday season!

  1. I eat fermented foods.  

I have realized there is a lot of confusion over what fermented foods are. Fermented foods are things like: sauerkraut, plain yogurt, kombucha, kefir and kimchi. So why are these foods considered fermented? I’m going to let Wellness Mama explain:

“Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form. This, along with the bevy of probiotics created during the fermentation process, could explain the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion. “

I have found that if I try to eat fermented foods at every meal, I feel much better after eating. I have yet to jump in to making any on my own, but I have heard it is easy. Fortunately, most health food stores carry these, as well as your regular supermarket. My Superstore in the NW has responded to our area’s want for health foods and our natural foods aisle is now almost 3 aisles in total, and it includes most of these foods, including kombucha (a fermented juice that is naturally sparkling). Many of these items sound more exotic than they are actually are and, once you do a little google research and demystify them, it becomes easier to include them in your diet.

Here are 3 websites that may help you research this:

Eating fresh also helps!

Eating fresh also helps!

  • http://wellnessmama.com/2245/health-benefits-fermented-foods/
  • http://www.mindbodygreen.com/search?q=fermented+food
  • https://www.culturedfoodlife.com/

2. I limit caffeine and eliminate dairy.

Caffeine and dairy are really hard on my stomach and I find them really hard to digest. One or two cups of coffee in the morning is okay, but forget about more than that and about consuming it after 11am. All of a sudden it will make my stomach cramp up or seize and I have trouble digesting food or even regulating body temperature after that. I don’t know exactly why, and doing a search yielded no concrete answers, but I have learned to listen to my body and respect it.

Ditto for dairy. One glass of milk or a bit of cheese or yogurt a day is plenty, and I often get bloated from it, which isn’t unusual for people with a gluten intolerance as the protein in dairy is similar to the gluten protein that bothers us. If I am going to have dairy, I make sure none of it happens after 5pm or I won’t sleep.

3. I drink apple cider vinegar.

I find that if I drink one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (with ‘the mother’) at every meal, I do not suffer from acid reflux, heartburn or bloating afterward and my bowel movements are more regular and not painful. I took the advice from a web-based course by Dr. Terry Wahls, skeptically, and it has seemed to have benefits. When I stop, I always regret it. I believe Wahls explained that it ups the acid in your system, which helps balance it, because if you are getting heartburn etc it is from LACK of acid, not too much of it. All I know is that I tried it and it has helped a lot.

4. I eat mindfully. 

I chew slowly and I chew a lot. I don’t talk as much as I do during meals because I am busy chewinggggg. Thankfully, my kids fill the space with words so we are not lacking dinner conversation, haha. I take a small bite, put down my fork, and chew slowly until I feel saliva or moisture in my mouth with the food, then swallow. I help out my gut and digestion by breaking down the food more completely. When we chew only a few times, our poor stomachs and gut are overworked and taxed, which leads to an imbalance in the finely tuned system, resulting in poor bowel movements, gut pain, heartburn and a whole slew of other nasty side effects. So remember to chew. Just do what I do- pretend you are at a fancy dinner party and don’t want to look like an uncultured pig. HAHA. At first, I had to remind myself to slow down, be mindful of my food and chew a lot, but it is starting to become a habit. And it is nice to slow down and truly taste what I am eating.

So that’s it! Easy enough to do during the holidays as well! Good luck and happy eating.

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