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Happier, Healthier Holidays for your Gut

Posted by Brad Dennis, Ph.D. on

Happier, Healthier Holidays for your Gut

Thanksgiving is two days away, which means the holidays are about to be in full swing. And that means food – LOTS of food, will be all around us for an entire month, as we head out to holiday parties (or host our own), visit with family and friends, and of course, have holiday meals. But a lot of the foods we eat at this time of year are very hard on the gut – lots of sugars and fats, and there’s also just lots of food, period. Here are a few tips that can help you keep your gut healthy throughout the holidays.

What’s your holiday Kryptonite?

Most of us have foods that are our weakness. The ones where we simply can’t stop at just one, or stay anywhere close to the moderation zone. And it could be any food, not just sweets and snack food. Take a few minutes to think about what foods that show up around the holidays are your personal Kryptonite. Maybe it’s not sweets at all. Maybe your kryptonite is ham, or stuffing, or dinner rolls. Whatever it is, find ways to moderate your consumption. If you’re the one cooking, make less of that particular food. You may even want to consider abstaining from that particular food altogether and choosing something else when dinner time comes around.


I’ve said it before, stomachs don’t react well to overeating – and that’s worsened if the foods aren’t the healthiest (which many holiday foods are). It’s so easy to pile food on your plate when at the holiday table. Instead, try taking smaller portions, eat slowly, and see how you feel once your plate is empty. If you’re still hungry, you can always get a second helping.

Avoid Temptation

For those of us who’ve gone back to the workplace after the pandemic (and those of you who never left), this time of year can feel like walking through a minefield if you’re trying to be mindful about food. Break rooms and kitchens are often filled with holiday treats, and even coworkers’ desks can be a trap, with dishes of candy or plates of cookies sitting on a corner.

The best thing you can do is avoid these locations as much as possible. If allowed, bring a mini coffeemaker or electric kettle that you can use right at your desk or workstation so you don’t have to visit the office break room just to get a cup of coffee or tea. If that’s not an option and you can’t abstain altogether, try grabbing a small saucer for your treats instead of a full-sized one.

It’s OK to Indulge a Little!

You don’t want to spend the holiday season stressing and worried so much about what you can or can’t eat that you aren’t able to enjoy yourself. The key is to be a little more mindful when choosing from the holiday table, and to just focus on smaller portions overall.

Here’s to a happy, healthier holiday season for our guts!


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