Thanksgiving is such a joyous holiday. A time where we gather with loved ones to enjoy good company and good food. But, Thanksgiving for some, may not be all that joyous. If you struggle with stomach problems, you know just what I mean. Lots of food that you probably can’t eat or enjoy because you have an intolerance to gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, you name it, it’s probably on the dinner table! It can become a very stressful event when it’s supposed to be a special day.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways you can manage your gut health and actually enjoy the holiday. These 4 tips I’m going to share with you will help you stress less & keep your gut in check so you aren’t running to the bathroom, bloated as a balloon, or curled up on the couch in pain missing out on the festivities.
1) Prepare ahead of time.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. When you have ongoing stomach issues, it’s important to prepare ahead of time so that you don’t stress or eat something that will upset your stomach. Let’s go through how to prepare in different scenarios:
If you’re going to someone else’s house and are not the one in charge of cooking:
Kindly ask the host what is on the menu. If you’re not sure if the dishes contain your food allergens, just ask and if they’re weirded out, just explain why you’re asking. People should be understanding of your health concerns.
If there are absolutely no dishes that you can eat, bring a few of your own. Really, all you need is a protein, a side (some veggies will do), and a dessert. Chances are, you can most likely eat the turkey that’s being made, so you don’t need to worry about bringing a protein dish. If there are no plain veggie dishes, you can bring your own. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, you can simply cut up a variety of veggies, throw them on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil & seasoning, and roast them for 20-30 minutes. Guarantee, other people will eat them too!
If you’re not a baker, Simple Mills has some pre-made baking mixes for cookies, brownies, cakes, and more, that are gluten-free and often vegan, made with minimal ingredients and don’t require much effort! Otherwise, stores like Whole Foods are likely to have gluten-free, vegan desserts available for purchase, or call around local bakeries to see if they make gluten-free, vegan desserts.
If you’re hosting/cooking:
There are plenty of tasty allergen-friendly dishes that your guests will enjoy and not even know they’re healthier. You can make a few allergen-friendly dishes and a few dishes that the rest of your guests can enjoy, that way everyone’s happy! Again, you really don’t need to complicate things, sometimes simple is best (and simple doesn’t mean not delicious… a little spice goes a long way!).
2) Stay calm & stop stressing.
Sometimes, stressing out over the event can cause more damage than just eating the foods. Stress is going to irritate your gut so you’re already in an inflamed state before you even eat. Make sure to do some deep breathing especially before you dig in. This will help relax your CNS so you can mellow out into a parasympathetic state and digest your food without issue. So simple, yet so important. And if deep breathing doesn’t get the job done, try the following:
Meditate for 5-10 minutes. Follow a guided meditation or put on some binaural beats and set a timer.
Use CBD oil internally. Place a dropperful under your tongue and chill.
Take calming herbs in the form of a tea, capsule, or essential oil like passionflower, chamomile, or lavender,
Do some calming yoga. Follow a guided practice or make up your own flow by just moving with your breath.
3) Use gut-support supplements.
Using the right supplements to help support your gut on Thanksgiving is going to be key to keeping your gut in check. If I’m going somewhere I know I’m going to indulge a little, I always make sure to have a few of these supplements on hand:
Bitters: comes as a tincture. Take in a tiny amount of water before meals to stimulate hydrochloric acid production which will allow you to better digest food.
Maty’s All Natural Acid & Indigestion Relief: this is a newer supplement I just discovered at CVS and I have to say I’m a fan. It contains ACV, coriander seed, turmeric root, clove bud, and ginger root which are all supportive of good digestion & reduction of inflammation. You can take 2 caps with meals for better digestion.
Digestive enzymes: often when we have stomach complaints, it means our digestive system isn’t working efficiently like it’s supposed to. Our body should be able to naturally secrete enzymes to help breakdown food, but when there’s some dysfunction, this doesn’t happen or not enough is produced to get the job done. Take enzymes either before or with meals to help with digestion. A few brands I like: Enzymedica Digest Gold, doTERRA Terrazyme, & Amy Myers digestive enzymes.
doTERRA DigestZen softgels: contains a variety of essential oils to help optimize digestion like fennel & caraway seed oil. I’ve been using this for years to help my digestion when it’s not ideal.
doTERRA Zendocrine capsules: this blend of whole-food extracts helps support healthy detoxification (and no I’m not talking about a quick cleanse/detox or anything like that). It helps you with assimilation and elimination of food so you don’t blow up, get constipated, and look 9 months pregnant.
Activated charcoal capsules: helps draw out toxins from the body. I use this whenever I eat something I’m technically not supposed to or indulge, you know, on special occasions because we have to live a little! This just helps to get those irritants out of the body quicker than our body can do on its own… and no it won’t make you run to the bathroom or anything, but when your poop is black, you’ll know it worked.
These are my go-to’s! As always, before introducing any supplements into your regimen, make sure to check with your doctor or specialist to ensure they do not interact with any medications you’re on or cause adverse side effects based on any medical conditions you have.
4) Drink plenty of water!
Water is going to help you detoxify. Avoid drinking water around mealtimes, but do drink it all other times throughout the day and the day after as well to keep things moving! Surely you’ll be indulging in some alcoholic bevs too, so that makes it even more important so you stay hydrated and minimize the effects of alcohol on the gut and body. If you’re drinking a ton of water and still feel dehydrated, try adding a squeeze of lemon and pinch of sea salt to every 8oz of water for electrolytes. You can even enhance the water by adding various cut up fruits and putting it into a water pitcher or jug for everyone to enjoy! Everyone can benefit from drinking more water throughout the day.
These are my top 4 tips for helping you stay healthy and happy this Thanksgiving. Remember, this is just one day out of the year, so if you indulge a little, don’t beat yourself up! The key to balance is eating healthier foods you can tolerate majority of the time so that on special occasions or holidays you can enjoy yourself. So don’t stress and enjoy the day!
*If you have any concerns, please always consult with your doctor before beginning any new regimens.
Jenn Horowitz, FNTP, CPT is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer who works to address the root cause of illness. Jenn is the founder of JTH Wellness, a holistic health nutrition counseling practice specialized in helping people with stomach problems take control of their health through nutrition and lifestyle changes. Jenn works to support and educate others so that they can enjoy life again, pain and worry free. Learn more about Jenn’s nutrition counseling services and schedule a free 15-minute discovery session by visiting her website, http://www.JTHwellness.com.