Whether you’re managing SIBO, IBS, Crohn’s, or other digestive issues, the holiday season can be a challenging time for your gut. Don’t let the fear of missing out on festive feasts dampen your holiday spirit! Discover how opting for gut-friendly foods and embracing a Low-FODMAP diet can transform your holiday experience. This article is your go-to guide for navigating food sensitivities during Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, office parties, and Christmas dinners.
What is a Low-FODMAP Diet?
FODMAP is an acronym for a group of short-chain carbohydrates (aka sugars) that can be hard to digest:
- Fermentable — Foods that your gut converts to gasses.
- Oligosaccharides — Things like onions, garlic, beans, and wheat products.
- Disaccharides — Think lactose, the sugar found in milk.
- Monosaccharides — The sugar found in fruit, aka fructose.
- And Polyols — Sugars found in artificial sweeteners and some alcohols.
For some individuals, consuming high-FODMAP foods can result in uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation. Here’s why: your gut bacteria have certain foods they prefer over others (like high-FODMAP ones), and when they get those foods, they produce more gasses. The top foods that bacteria love are fermented goods such as cheese, kombucha, and sauerkraut, or foods rich in sugar and fiber.
Following a low-FODMAP diet can help to avoid these triggers, giving your gut a chance to repair itself, relieve symptoms, and restore the balance of good bacteria.
The Naughty List: High-FODMAP Foods to Avoid
For individuals with IBS, SIBO, or other gut sensitivities, you’ll want to pass the plate and steer clear of stuffing, gravy, and casseroles containing onions and garlic, creamy sauces, dairy products, cheesy dishes, and high-FODMAP sides such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.
Carbonated drinks (like sodas, champagne, and beers) can contribute to bloating, so be mindful with your consumption. You’ll also want to avoid drinks that are fermented (such as rum or hard ciders) and drinks which contain high-fructose corn syrup or high amounts of added sugar. Additionally, if you’re reaching for that cup of coffee or tea, you may want to drink it straight. Some artificial sweeteners may cause an upset stomach!
What about the pumpkin or apple pie!? The devil is in the details… While pumpkin may be enjoyed in moderation, apples are considered a high-FODMAP fruit. Homemade pie recipes can be modified to make them more suitable for your specific dietary needs, such as using a gluten free crust, lactose-free or non-dairy alternatives, and moderate amounts of sweeteners.
The Nice List: Low-FODMAP Foods to Enjoy
Gut-friendly holiday classics include roasted turkey, baked chicken, and fish for protein. Modifications don’t have to mean flavorless, either. You can season with sage, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon. Side dishes include green beans, lactose-free mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, quinoa stuffing, and gluten-free rolls. In moderation, cranberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries can be enjoyed too!
Sip into the holiday spirit with caffeine-free peppermint tea! Not only is the flavor great, but peppermint tea is known for its gut-soothing properties, aiding in digestion and easing symptoms of gas, bloating, and indigestion. The best drink of them all is water, but you can also enjoy orange and cranberry juice, coffee, black tea, and green tea.
What about alcohol? Gin, vodka, and whiskey are in the clear — but you just want to make sure any mixers you add don’t contain high amounts of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. One glass of red, sparkling, or white wine is low-FODMAP, since grapes are a low-FODMAP fruit. However, larger servings of wine can increase your fructose intake and increase digestive symptoms. If alcohol historically has not been your friend, you may just want to avoid it to enjoy the rest of your meal!
If you’ve got a favorite dessert in mind, chances are there is a recipe online that is low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free, and will work for you and your dietary needs! For example, pumpkin pie, berry parfaits, chocolate-dipped strawberries, lemon sorbet, and peanut butter cookies are popular treats that can be made with modifications to satisfy that sweet tooth and keep your gut happy!
Making the Most of Your Meals!
Food often brings people together, especially during the holidays. When you’re dealing with gut and food sensitivities, it can be challenging to navigate the holidays without feeling like you’re missing out. The good news is, with a few minor moderations, you can enjoy most holiday meals!
The most important thing to keep in mind with foods, drinks, and desserts, is to check ingredient labels, choose low-FODMAP sweeteners, and be mindful of serving sizes. And if it’s still overwhelming to figure out, you don’t have to do it alone —Schedule an appointment with our team today! At ISAIH Natural Medicine, our digestive detectives are here to get your gut health back on track, so you can enjoy the holidays to the fullest.