'Tis the season of holiday parties and copious amounts of food. While indulging every once in a while is perfectly fine, it's important to be mindful of the potential traps that come along with holiday eating especially when doing can impact your gut health.
Here are six traps you'll want to avoid if you're looking to maintain a gut-healthy lifestyle during the holidays.
1. Too Much Gluten
One of the biggest holiday food traps is eating too much gluten. This can happen when you're surrounded by tempting baked breads, buns and rolls that you don't normally have served with a meal. It's important to be mindful of how much you're eating and to make sure that you're not overeating just because the food is there.
Try adding breads like sourdough to your family traditions as an alternative to plain white bread. Sourdough bread is easier to digest, because its made with fermented dough.
Adding probiotic foods to your table can truly help your gut. While putting pickles and kraut on your Thanksgiving table may not be your tradition, consuming them with a meal aids digestion. That's because fermented foods are enzyme-rich, and enzymes assist the body's own digestive efforts.
Here's a list of other probiotic foods to consider including real fermented foods like pickles, olives and kraut from us at Olive My Pickle. We recommend making a gut healthy charcuterie board for you and your guest to much on prior to sitting down for a big meal. Here's healthy tips on how to make one.
2. Too Much Sugar and Alcohol
Another trap is eating unusually high amounts of sugary foods -- cookies, candy canes, shortbread, pie, and caramel covered popcorn are a few that come to mind.
Yes, its the holidays which are a special time of year, so celebrate and indulge a little! But it's easy to go overboard, especially when there's sweets around every corner at the office and leftover pies and cookies galore around the house. Developing self awareness around what our particular trigger foods are, being the adult and exercising self control are all part of the work it takes to maintain good health.
The same goes for alcohol consumption. Having a couple of drinks to celebrate is just fine! But there are smarter ways to go about consuming alcohol. We cover some strategies for intelligent drinking, including how to mitigate a hangover with pickle juice in this article.
3. Skipping Meals
Another common trap is skipping meals, either because your routine is disrupted or in order to 'save calories for later.' This can backfire, as you're likely to end up overeating when you do finally do sit down to eat. It's better to eat smaller meals throughout the day so that you don't end up overdoing it later on.
Grabbing a healthy snack just might be what you need especially if you're traveling over the holidays. Grab your healthy snack list here.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
It's also important to make sure that you're drinking enough water during the holidays.
Alcohol and sugary drinks can quickly dehydrate you, so be sure to drink plenty of water in between cocktails or glasses of eggnog. And if you really want to take things up a notch, drink some bone broth too!
Hydration plays a big part of our overall gut health, check out this OMP article on how hydration and gut health go hand in hand.
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
During the holidays, it's common to stay up late finishing shopping or wrapping gifts. However, this can lead to fatigue and make it harder to resist temptation when it comes to food.
Studies show that even a single night of sleep deprivation changes the levels of our hunger and appetite hormones, leading to increased hunger.
It’s clear that sleep and gut health are interconnected, and both are important for our overall health. Learn more about the connection of sleep and gut health here.
6. Stress Eating
Finally, one of the biggest traps is stress eating. The holidays can be a stressful time, and it's easy to turn to food for comfort. However, this can quickly lead to other health problems.
If you find yourself stress eating, try taking a break from whatever is causing the stress and take some time for yourself.
We know that with the holiday festivities come some traps. With some foresight and intention, we can avoid these traps. Self awareness, understanding our triggers, maintaining good habits and routines as much as possible and prioritizing our own wellness and balance first are the best way to avoid the traps.
Enjoy your holiday season with real ferments:
How do I eat fermented foods for my gut health?
Our quick guide has the answers. Get 20+ meal ideas, tips, hacks and snacks for your best gut ever.