The holidays are a time of celebration, joy, togetherness, and delicious food. Unfortunately, many classic dishes that are associated with the holidays are not particularly healthy for you. Luckily, there are healthier options we can enjoy while still tasting yummy!
This special holiday-themed article will include a few of recipes that will put a healthy twist on favorites, while also listing some important guidelines if you are cooking for friends and family with food allergies or sensitivities.
Why Eating Healthy Over the Holidays is Important for Gut Health
It can be tempting to chow down on endless unhealthy foods over the holidays. When you are gathering with family and celebrating, every meal will be bigger and better than a usual weeknight dinner. However, it’s essential that you still try to eat healthy during the holidays, as your health may start to suffer.
What we eat has a major impact on our gut health. Poor diets can cause stomach issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc., but they can also have a much more dramatic impact on your overall health. Your immune system, mental health, and cardiovascular system can all be harmed when you eat unhealthy foods. That’s why eating right all the time is crucial, even during the holidays.
Foods to Limit
There are some specific foods that it’s good to limit or avoid altogether. These include:
Sugar may taste sweet, but it’s anything but kind to your body. Eating high amounts of
sugar can cause a variety of different issues. For instance, it can cause inflammatory markers to rise and contribute to candida overgrowth. In terms of gut health specifically, sugar will affect the gut biome and can cause an imbalance in the bacteria that lives there. Some of this bacteria is very good for you, so disruption can be harmful and may make you gain weight or experience other adverse reactions.
Just like sugar, alcohol can be tough to avoid during the holidays. It may seem like everyone is celebrating with some cider or champagne, which can be very tempting. However, your gut will thank you for abstaining. Alcohol can impact your physical and mental health in numerous ways, but in terms of gut health, it functions very similarly to sugar. It can cause digestive issues and affect the ratio of bacteria in your gut so that the bad flora win out. That’s why it’s best to just have a single glass of clear liquor if you must drink during the holidays.
Rich, buttery baked goods and creamy cheeses are a big part of most holiday menus. However, these should also be avoided because dairy can negatively influence your gut health. This is especially true for those that are lactose intolerant, but even if you can process lactose, you can benefit from avoiding dairy altogether, as it can be inflammatory and affect the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Things to Keep in Mind When Cooking For Those With Allergies or Food Sensitivities
Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria can be hard during the holidays for anyone because there are so many delicious but ‘bad’ foods that cause temptation. However, eating right is even more challenging for those with allergies or food sensitivities since they will often be dining at friends’ or relatives’ homes.
If you have a guest with dietary restrictions, it’s important that you serve a menu that accommodates their needs. Allergic reactions are not something to take lightly and can cause serious health problems. We want to avoid others having to experience the complications of a time set apart for celebrating.
Here are a few pieces of advice to guide you:
- Clean Everything Before Use
To avoid cross-contamination, you should clean all surfaces, tools, and equipment very
thoroughly before you use them to cook an allergen-free dish. You’ll need to wash away any traces that can be left from past uses with the allergen ingredient(s). Also, be sure to wash your hands frequently along the way! A simple trick for dishes and cooking utensils, run them through a full cycle in the dishwasher to ensure they have been sanitized properly before you start cooking.
- Read the Ingredient Labels Thoroughly
If you are cooking for a friend or family member with a sensitivity or allergy, ask them ahead of time for a list of ingredients to avoid. Often when someone is allergic to an ingredient or food, there can be variations of the food hidden in the ingredients as an alternate name. Another consideration would be is the product manufactured in a facility that also produces other items that contain the ingredient in question.
- Prepare Allergen-Free Dishes First
After cleaning everything, prepping and cooking the allergen-free dishes first will
minimize the risk of cross-contamination. It’s good to get them out of the way, and then you can feel free to use the space to make foods that contain allergens. Just be sure to cover the allergen-free foods securely so that they will not be splashed with an ingredient that can cause a reaction.
- Label Everything
Make sure that everything is clearly and distinctly marked so that your guests with food sensitivities and allergies know if something is safe for them to eat. This is especially important if you have made two versions of the same dish, as you do not want to get them mixed up if only one is allergen-free.
Gut health is so essential, and it can definitely be tricky to maintain over the holidays. Hopefully, these tips will help you have a healthy holiday season, but if you need a little more guidance, please check out the recipes below! These recipes are designed to preserve gut health without sacrificing taste, and they can be made with ingredients that can be found at any grocery store.
Egg Nog Latte with Collagen Protein (Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo) | Against All Grain – Delectable paleo recipes to eat & feel great
Pumpkin Spice Latte (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo) | Against All Grain – Delectable paleo recipes to eat & feel great
Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (Paleo, Dairy Free) | Against All Grain – Delectable paleo recipes to eat & feel great