For most Americans, the six week stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is an excuse to indulge. But for the millions suffering from gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), holiday indulgence can lead to more than just a few extra pounds - it can unleash a torrent of discomfort and pain.
A “further” look at traditional holiday fare, however, provides some consolation that not everything is off limits. In fact, many holiday staples may actually be helpful for bothered bellies. Here’s our Further Food Guide to enjoying the holidays, worry-free:
- 1. Load up on Turkey: Lean proteins, like turkey, are considered a “safe” food for those with IBDs. Proteins are primarily digested and absorbed within the stomach and small intestine, saving the colon from irritation. Enjoy the white meat of turkey, cornish hen, and roast chicken this holiday season! Just be careful of high-fat meats, such as sausages, beef roasts and holiday hams, as excess fat can be a trigger for some.
- 2. Sip away on bone broth: With whole turkeys, rib roasts, and lamb shanks being cooked up, there are plenty of bones left over. Use these to make deeply nourishing and healing broths, making sure to skim off excess fat. Once prepared, they are easy to store, freeze, and have on hand for use as a healing soup base or something warm to sip on throughout the day. Crowd-source what friends and family might otherwise throw away to “stock” up.
- 3. Dig into Potatoes: White potatoes get a bad rap, but are full of key nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and iron, and are high in vitamin B6 and immunity-boosting vitamin C. For those in the midst of a Crohn’s or colitis flare, avoid the skin of the potato as it contains glycoalkaloids which can be an irritant. Our IBD-friendly, dairy-free mashed and smashed potatoes are soothing, easily digestible holiday favorites, and the sweet potato gnocchi is guaranteed to be a hit.
- 4. Spice it up: A little spice goes a long way in adding essential nutrients, flavor, and healing benefits to food. Fennel and ginger warm up a winter dish while soothing digestive unrest. Oregano and thyme, which we use in our oven-roasted turkey, are both surprisingly full of iron, which many IBD sufferers become low in. Avoid spicy spices like chilies, which can be problematic for sensitive digestion.
- 5. Start new traditions: If you’re hosting, try out fun, gut-friendly dishes that break holiday tradition. If you have a packed social calendar, find a dish that’s safe and satisfying, that you can bring and share with friends. Try new variations of the dish for each party. You’ll quickly figure out which recipe is the biggest hit, and your friends will be glad when it shows up on the table at next year’s gatherings.