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How to survive the holidays if you have a sensitive gut

Many sufferers of gut dysfunction, whether it be IBS, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or another gut issue, have a common problem of what to eat. Socialising is among the most challenging, as many foods on offer, when you’re out and about, are liable to trigger your symptoms of pain, nausea and bloating, or send you rushing off to the nearest loo.

Here are some tips to help you celebrate the holidays without suffering. Read to the end, as there is a quick fix I recommend if you find you are reacting to foods.

Book an appointment with me if you need more guidance or want to overcome your gut problems. A free 15 minute phone consultation is available if you want to know more.

What to eat

Here’s a quick basic guide on strategies to help you go out and enjoy yourself but not make matters worse.

In restaurants and cafes

Choose basic meat and fish, omelettes and veg. You can bring your own coconut aminos or baggie of herbs and spices to jazz up your dish. If you need carbs choose white rice (jasmine or basmati are less triggering).

Watch out for sauces as these are often prepared using garlic and onion.

Japanese food can be a good option as, generally, these dishes do not use garlic or onion. For example, ramen is a reasonably safe but keep noodle consumption to a small portion. Again, be careful with sauces and check with the wait staff first that it doesn’t contain garlic or onion.

Party going

It’s not ideal but the best way to avoid problematic gut symptoms when you're visiting friends and family iis to bring your own prepared food, for example, roast some chicken drumsticks beforehand and take along a big salad to accompany it.

Festive drinking

Ideally, stick to non-alcoholic drinks. I don’t normally recommend diet drinks but as an exception due to the party season, these can be a good option. Avoid sugar alcohol sweeteners, such as xylitol or erythritol. Stevia is a good natural sweetener. Failing that, artificial sweeteners are your best bet, such as the “zero sugar” drinks.

If you really want to celebrate with an alcoholic drink, stick to spirits and only have one or two drinks, for example gin with zero sugar tonic water and a slice of lemon or lime.

Sweet treats

If you really want to treat yourself with something treaty, a small amount (2 large squares) of high cocoa content chocolate (at least 70%) or a little carob chocolate is generally well tolerated.

Sweet foods that are mainly refined sugar, e.g pavlova minus the fruit, are less of a problem than more complex carbohydrate foods, such as cakes. Sugar is absorbed high in the digestive tract before they get a chance to trigger symptoms - no guarantees though, it can still affect some people.

If you want to make your own ‘safe’ treat, try my recipe for SIBO-friendly low FODMAP cheesecake or my SIBO-friendly low FODMAP chocolate chip cookies.

What to do if you react

Even with the best strategies, you can sometimes still react. However, you can feel better quickly by using a binder.

Binders attract (adsorb) toxins (including gases) so that they can then be eliminated. They are particularly useful for reducing bloating, nausea and stomach pains. In my practice, I use BioPractica Toxaprevent, which contains a mineral called clinoptilite. It is very effective and has the added benefit of helping to resolve your gut issues by healing the gut and reducing inflammation. It also helps to clear histamine and remove heavy metals from the body.

Toxaprevent is available in our store. It is a practitioner-only product, so you will need to email us a copy of a prescription, or book a consultation with me. 

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