At Jona, we’re looking forward to the holidays for some needed family time, rest, and all of the delicious foods that come along with it. We’ve started pulling out our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and we’re excited about all of the comforting holiday food and drinks we’ll get to eat. However, we know this season comes with changes in our daily routines and holiday meals can come with uncomfortable fullness, bloating, and stomach pains–common side effects of the season’s indulgence.
We wanted to share a few tips on how to keep your holiday celebrations gut healthy, so you can still feel good while enjoying your favorite holiday treats. To make your holiday shopping simpler, we’ve also included some easy product swaps that can support your gut microbiome amidst all the celebrations. All of these items can be found at your local Whole Foods. It’s all about adding gut-friendly foods and activities to your day - not about taking away things that you love.
1. Prioritize colorful foods with fiber on your plate.
- Choosing a variety of colors will not only make your plate photo-worthy - it also ensures that you’re eating a variety of polyphenols, which are organic compounds that support your gut.
- On a classic Thanksgiving spread, the best sources of fiber are found in all of the winter vegetables – think leafy greens, squash, roasted carrots, and sweet potatoes.
2. Try making a few gut-healthy ingredient swaps. Here are some of our recommendations:
- When making recipes that call for sour cream, try plain yogurt instead. It provides the same creamy texture minus the saturated fat, and supports your gut health with probiotics. We love Nancy's Yogurt for a no-added-sugar option.
- If your holiday desserts include chocolate, try switching from milk chocolate to polyphenol- and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Polyphenols nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut. However, not all dark chocolate is created equal - we like Spring and Mulberry, which is sweetened with high-fiber dates.
- Instead of refined wheat flour, try oats or oat flour as a fiber-rich alternative. Personally, we love Bob’s Red Mill Oats for their quality and simplicity.
3. Go for a walk or get your body moving.
- Your gut is responsive to changes in activity, and balancing your meals with aerobic exercise like a walk or light jog on the day of a heavy meal can promote beneficial gut bacteria.
- Exercise also stimulates gut motility and lowers your blood sugar spike, which can lessen the feeling of a post-meal “food coma.”
4. Save room! Keep an eye on portion size, especially for heavy foods.
- Many holiday dishes have ingredients that are high in saturated fat - think cheese, bacon, butter, and sour cream, just to name a few. These fats have been linked to inflammation in the gut.
- We love getting to eat all the foods we want to eat - just keep them to appropriate portions and stop eating when you feel full!
5. If you’re drinking alcohol this season, limit your alcohol consumption or choose more gut-friendly drinks.
- Alcohol has been linked to adverse changes in the gut - it promotes intestinal inflammation, can impair gut wall integrity, and is linked with dysbiosis.
- Red wine contains many gut-supporting polyphenols, and can be a better choice than white wine. Bonus if you choose a natural, organic, lower sugar red wine!
- Staying hydrated is important for digestion and for your gut microbiome, so alternate alcoholic drinks (which are dehydrating) with tea or water.
6. Above everything else, be kind to yourself and don’t overthink your choices.
- Stress can contribute to microbiome dysbiosis, so it’s also good for your gut to give yourself some grace and flexibility on your holiday choices.
- Enjoy being around family and friends and mindfully enjoy all of the foods you’re getting together to eat!
We’re thankful for you and we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!
The Jona Team