Sponsored by and developed in part with support from Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
If you have Clostridioides difficile infection (C. diff) or struggle with gut health, the holidays can be SO HARD! Many of our favorite traditional holiday foods are a no-go and food is a major component of most holiday gatherings.
This can cause you to either feel sad or resentful at not having any options or giving into temptation and having to leave early because your body cannot process what you put in it properly. Neither is a fun option!
I've never had C. diff but I've struggled with a chronic illness that affects my gut health and my diet.
I've had to learn some simple changes that let me prepare foods that support gut health the whole family will enjoy, and I don't have to spend forever cooking.
How Your Gut Health Affects Your Whole Body
Gut health plays a much bigger part in our overall health than we knew 20 years ago. We used to think that the digestive tract was really simple. We ate, the body broke down food, absorbed nutrients, and excreted any waste.
Now we are finding new connections between gut health and things like our immune system and mental health. Gut health can even affect things like autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, endocrine disorders, and other serious diseases.
What Can Gut Microbiome Imbalance Do?
Our “gut” is full of bacteria, like hundreds of different strains. Some of these bacteria are necessary for our health. In a healthy individual with a healthy diet, these microorganisms keep each other in balance.
When they become imbalanced (due to illness, medication, dietary changes, or other reasons), we start to see symptoms like an upset stomach, nausea, abdominal cramping, dehydration, and more.
We also become more susceptible to illness and infections such as C. diff.
Gut Health Friendly Holiday Menu
This menu is designed with simple swaps for some of our holiday favorites, so you get to enjoy your meal without all the symptoms that come from upsetting your gut.
If you have been diagnosed with C. diff, please check with your doctor to see what you personally can eat during and after the infection.
If you or a family member are recovering from C. diff, these menu ideas and easy swaps will make it easier for you to enjoy the holidays without the discomfort!
Gut-Friendly Holiday Soups
Starting a holiday meal with a soup course was never one of my family's traditions but I'm so glad my husband introduced us to it! It's a light way to start the meal and forces me to be more organized in the kitchen, so I have time to sit down and enjoy it with my family.
I like to cook my soup in advance and actually freeze both of the ones I'm sharing today. This way, I can make it on a high-energy day, freeze it, and just toss it in the fridge the day before I want it. Reheating soup on the stove is super easy too!
This Scottish lentil soup is a family favorite and one I make in big batches at least a couple of times a year. It is full of cooked veggies and a clear broth with lentils, making it satisfying without being too heavy or rich.
*To make it more gut friendly, use veggie broth and leave out the ham. It’s still delicious but easier for the body to digest and vegetarian.
Turmeric & Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
This roasted butternut squash soup is one of my newer recipes & I'm obsessed with it! Turmeric and ginger are both well known for helping support gut health but I mainly use them because the combination is so delicious! This recipe is so easy to make, especially when you use the crockpot to roast your butternut squash!
Gut Health Friendly Holiday Side Dishes
This is one of our favorite cornbread recipes. It's easy to make, but you can also go even easier and use boxed corn muffin mix! I love muffins because they are in individual servings but you can also make a pan of cornbread.
Plain white dinner rolls are easy for the body to digest and a staple on our holiday table.
The Main Dish
The holidays just aren't the holidays without a turkey! It is one protein that my body handles really well and is so versatile that we eat it year-round. Chicken is another lean protein that is easy to make and gut-friendly. But roasting a whole turkey, carving it, and cleaning up afterward could easily use all my spoons on a bad day! Luckily, I found a super easy method that cuts down on the dishes and requires less effort but still produces a delicious and moist turkey!
Gut Health Supporting Holiday Desserts
Just because you are being good to your body doesn't mean you have to skip dessert! There are simple swaps you can make that still allow you to enjoy sweet treats, like switching an icing-covered sugar cookie for a delicious, moist oatmeal raisin cookie! Or a tiny change in your favorite banana bread!
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
I found this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe in my grandma's recipe box and it is my favorite now! Delicious, plump raisins in a slightly sweetened cookie batter, baked to perfection. The recipe, as written, uses wheat germ but you can just use all oatmeal instead of the combo to make it easier to digest!
Banana bread is a sweet treat that is super easy to tweak. My friend Lauren over at MM has 3 recipes I'm obsessed with: pumpkin banana bread, traditional banana bread, and apple banana bread. For a simple swap, replace the butter with the same amount of coconut oil or applesauce. If you use applesauce, you can reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe too!
Hopefully, the gut-healthy foods on our menu will help you and your family enjoy the holidays without food-related stress!If recurrent C. diff is causing you to feel depressed, anxious, or otherwise suffer mentally, please reach out to a trusted mental health professional.