5 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Food Sensitivities

If you’re sensitive to foods, Thanksgiving and the holiday season can be a time of either temptation or deprivation. Should you eat that cookie? Is it worth it to indulge in some stuffing? What’s in that hot dish exactly?

As a Chinese medicine practitioner with food sensitivities, here are my top 5 survival tips for getting through (and maybe even enjoying!) the holiday feasts:

  1. Take a good probiotic. Better yet, take more! Food sensitivities are a red flag sign of bacterial imbalance in your gut, so you should be taking a probiotic every day already. (But remember, not all probiotics are created equal. Different strains help different conditions, so ask your holistic health practitioner if you’re taking the right ones.) Come feast time, if you know you’re going to eat some foods your gut doesn’t like, take extra doses of probiotics the night before, the morning of, and later in the evening. That can counteract the effects of all that delicious, bloat-a-rific food.
  2. Pick the foods you’re going to indulge in…and really savor them! I’m sensitive to gluten and I really don’t feel deprived by avoiding it most of the time. But I love stuffing. I really, really, really love stuffing. I dream about Thanksgiving because it means that somebody else will make the stuffing for me and I can stuff my face (maybe that’s where the name came from). But oh, does it make me sick: instant bloat, then fatigue, followed by acid reflux, and ultimately an inability to get out of bed the next day. No fun. But I really love stuffing. So I’m going to eat it and savor Every. Single. Bite. BUT since I’m also sensitive to dairy I’m also going to skip the custard pies, the green bean casserole, and the bread and butter so I don’t totally overload my system. And after the leftovers are gone, I’m going back to gluten free. It’s all about priorities.
  3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables too. Oh yes! Fruits and veggies are loaded with enzymes that help you digest your food and heal your gut. So don’t skip the sweet potatoes and cranberries! In fact, I got through Thanksgiving last year with absolutely no ill effects by drinking homemade smoothies at least once a day. You can bet I’m loading up on kale and blueberries this week.
  4. Take the right enzymes to help you. Lactose intolerant? Pick up some Lactaid and take 3-4 tablets with that pumpkin pie. Gluten sensitivity? Some supplement companies are now coming out with gluten enzymes to break down the gliadins that cause digestive distress. Prone to heartburn and reflux? Start your day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a half cup of water.
  5. Have a post-Thanksgiving plan. If you manage your food sensitivities well but you know you’re going to stuff your face with stuffing/pie/fill-in-the-blank, book a session with your acupuncturist to reverse the digestive distress after the feast. That way you won’t be paying for Thanksgiving until Christmas. (Plus, acupuncture is covered 100% by flex spending accounts so if you have money sitting there it’s the perfect way to use it before you lose it!)

These are tips to get you through the holiday season, but what about if you have ongoing digestive distress and food sensitivities? Know that if you’re sensitive to multiple foods you probably have leaky gut or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which are serious imbalances in the digestive tract that can be treated. Leaving these issues untreated can lead to acne, joint inflammation, seasonal allergies, depression, and immune dysfunction. But if treated properly with herbal medicine and acupuncture, we can kill excess bacteria and repair leaky gut to prevent the snowball effect of digestive problems.

If you suffer from chronic digestive problems or food sensitivities, book an appointment online or give us a call today for a free consultation to see if we can help you eliminate a life of bloating and discomfort–for the holidays and beyond.