How have your gut symptoms been affected by the holiday seasons?
In this episode of the Love Your Gut Podcast, I talk about the food insecurities that people face over the holiday season, how your mindset affects your symptoms, and preparing your gut beforehand.
Topics Covered in This Episode:
- Practical things you can do for the holidays to help your gut. [6:47]
- Things you can do to make your trip easier. [13:58]
- Balancing your blood sugar. [16:08]
- What if we want to eat pie? What should we do? [17:56]
- Why it’s important to enjoy the foods you like. [19:39]
- Dr. Finley’s final tips for the holidays. [21:51]
If this episode has been helpful, hit me up on Instagram, and tell me about your experience!
- Travel-sized Squatty Potty.
- For symptom relief: Bitters (For gurgly stomach, gas, and bloating), and Tummy tamer pills (For trapped gas and bloating).
- Make a list of things that you can control.
- Eat regular meals, and don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing.
- Decrease the stress around food.
- Try to stick to a routine.
- Balance your blood sugar and hydrate.
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- “An anxious mind equals an anxious gut.”
- “Focus on what you do have control over.”
- “Your carbs need to have friends, and those friends are protein and fat.”
- “Stick to what you know works for you.”
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Dr. Heather Finley
Dr. Heather Finley 00:00
We want to get all the nutrients that we need each day in via the food that we’re eating. But we also want to play to and that’s where some of these sweeter foods, the pies, the cakes, the desserts that you don’t necessarily eat all the time. Come in, it is really important for you to enjoy those foods. Because food is so much more than just nutrition.
Dr. Heather Finley 00:26
Hey,welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back.
Dr. Heather Finley 00:35
I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your gut. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.
Dr. Heather Finley 01:09
You guys, welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut Podcast. I’m really excited about today’s episode. And it will be releasing right before the US Thanksgiving holiday. So for those of you that listen, that are not inside of the US, I still feel like this is going to be valuable for you because we are in full holiday mode. I don’t know about you guys, but I am definitely team wait to put Christmas decorations up till after Thanksgiving. But honestly, I’m considering doing it earlier this year for some reason. And I’m seeing all the lights go up in our neighborhood, which I absolutely love. And everybody’s starting to get super festive, which is always so fun. And it can be such a fun time of year. It’s a time where people slow down and they connect and they make memories with their families and they enjoy delicious food. And there’s lots of holiday traditions and things that you typically just don’t do other times of the year. And so I do think it is a time where a lot of people are just excited for the slowdown for the connection for the food for everything. But if you have digestive issues, you might be feeling the opposite. You might be seeing those lights go up in your neighborhood thinking oh, no, I can’t bear another holiday party or I don’t want to go to Thanksgiving dinner, or whatever the thoughts might be. So I really hope that this episode is helpful for you. We are going to talk about a couple tips to just help you navigate the holidays whether it’s this upcoming week for Thanksgiving, or really for any holiday party or anything this season that you feel stressed about. We last week in the gut Together program, which is our signature program for gut health. We had a holiday workshop with our clients. And to be honest, it’s one of my favorite things that we do every year. We’ve done this for a couple years now. And the whole team gets involved. And we have this holiday workshop with our clients. And it’s just fun, we get to go over really in depth holiday strategy. And even just having people share some holiday memories. We did that on a call this week, sharing some positive holiday memories and really getting them in the mindset of how they can thrive this holiday season, and not just survive. And so really that’s the idea and inspiration behind this episode, I’m going to be going over just a couple of the points that we discussed with our clients to hopefully help you guys as well, if you’re feeling that way, on So to start us off, this is a little bit different probably than your typical episode podcast episode. But what I want you to do is just unless you’re driving or running on the treadmill, I want you to close your eyes. And I want you to just think of a really positive holiday memory. And I want you to try to experience it from all the senses. So maybe the positive holiday memory is from when you were a kid and you were laughing around the table or you were playing a specific game or whatever it might be, I want you to just put yourself back in that memory. And I want you to experience it. What does it sound like? What does it smell like? What is it tastes like? What can What are all what can you feel? What are the senses like maybe there’s a tablecloth? Maybe there maybe you can see candles? What are the decorations look like? So just kind of put yourself in that scene. And I want you to just anchor that memory in. And you might be thinking that this is a little weird and why are we doing this? But the reason that we’re doing this is because what I want you to remember is that At holidays can be fun. And holidays can be enjoyable. And you likely have had really positive experiences, around holidays or around maybe meals that are different from the ones that you typically eat, and you can enjoy them again. And so from that memory, what I want you to do now is think of something that reminds you of that memory, maybe it’s a smell, or a taste, or a certain decoration, or a certain texture, whatever it is, I want you to get something around your house or at the store that reminds you of that that can just be your anchor this holiday, maybe you put it out, or maybe you defuse that essential oil smell, to just remind you and go back to that memory of just anchoring and the fact that holidays can be fun, and enjoyable and powerful. And if you feel so inclined, I would absolutely love for you to tell me what your anchor is. We did a more extended version of this exercise with our clients on a call a couple of weeks ago. And it was really cool to hear the women share what their anchors were. Because we’re all different. And I think you all will have different ones as well. So I love for you to reach out and tell me and tag me if you are putting it on your holiday table this season or you’re making a certain recipe that anchors in that positive memory, maybe it’s your grandmother’s pie recipe, whatever it is. So I want you to go back to that. And think of it this holiday season, you could even write it out. So you can read it or record yourself talking about the experience, just to anchor it in. So now some practical things that you can do for the holidays. I think a lot of times the fear that people have around the holidays is around overindulging or feeling pressure, like, I have to eat everything on my plate or I have to be miserable. You know, you see all the commercials of especially Thanksgiving of people like having to unbutton their pants and just feeling miserable and stuffing themselves. And I’m just here to tell you that that does not have to be your narrative. The number one way in which that will become a true statement is if you deprive yourself beforehand, a lot of times we see people saying like, Oh, it’s Thanksgiving, I’m not going to eat all day, because I know I’m going to eat a ton later. And here’s the deal. Thanksgiving food you can make any time of year and there’s always leftovers. So what I want you to remind yourself of is you can eat normally the day of and you can wake up and you can eat breakfast, and you can eat lunch and you can eat a snack. And then you can have Thanksgiving dinner, and pie or whatever it is that you have. And you can have the leftovers the next day. But just because everybody around you is not eating all day and over in order to then stuff themselves later and feel miserable. If that is a huge trigger for you. For your digestive symptoms, you don’t have to do it. And in fact, you can be a great example of breaking that narrative to your family and your friends. So just reminding yourself of that. The second thing that we see individuals struggling with is not wanting to miss out on food or experiences, but still worried about symptoms. And so I really want to remind you of with this is an anxious mind equals an anxious gut. So you can really start to help this experience just by what you think. I think many times we think, you know, if I eat this certain food,
Dr. Heather Finley 08:51
it’s going to give me symptoms. But if you’re really nervous or fearful or anxious going into the meal, you will have a reaction because of the nervous belly. And in that situation, it really is easy to blame the food because you were having symptoms and so it’s easy to say well, we’ll see I knew that if I ate this certain food, I was going to have symptoms but maybe it was the fact that you were really stressed about it beforehand. So you can combat this by watching your thoughts about food before you eat a meal or even just trying to calm yourself down by taking a couple deep breaths and just relaxing before a meal. Hey there I know you are absolutely loving this episode but I am so excited because my book The healthy happy gut cookbook is now available for pre order. This book is designed to help you identify the causes of your symptoms, give you really actionable steps to address them and help you love food again and get back in the kitchen. So not only is it packed with tons of info, it’s also packed with over 50 delicious recipes that I’m so excited And for you to try, when you preorder this book, you not only get the book on your doorstep on December 20, just in time for Christmas, but you also get access to some bonus trainings and a live q&a call with me in December. So we will be releasing more info about that soon. But I would absolutely love it if you would preorder the book and share it with a friend who might need it as well. The link to preorder the book is in the show notes. And also on my website. If Thanksgiving or holiday meals can be really stressful for you, because you’re around tons of family or just a different environment for you. Maybe consider trying that food a couple days before the event. So you can work up your confidence. So try maybe the sweet potato casserole that you really like a couple days before and try it in a really calm, not stressful environment. And allow yourself the time to chew it and enjoy it so that you can avoid those symptoms. So that when you do enter the Thanksgiving meal, you feel really confident that you’re going to be okay, it’s going to be harder if you haven’t had a specific food. And maybe the last time you had that food, you had some symptoms, to trying it beforehand can definitely help. The next thing that we see as troublesome for a lot of our clients is overwhelming amount of food options. You know, a lot of times with thanksgiving, there’s tons of sides and lots of food and it can be really hard to decide what to have, which is where I think a lot of people end up getting very full. So I would just think about how you can prioritize what food do you actually really want. And what you could try is try a couple of bites of each food item, and then decide which ones did you like the most. So you can go back for more and get more of the food that you really, really enjoyed. And again, bring a Tupperware or bring a something to put leftovers in afterwards, so that you can enjoy everything that you wanted to try later. I don’t know what time you typically have your Thanksgiving meal. But if you have it at lunchtime, have some of the other things at dinnertime and switch it up, it can be a great way to feel like you could still try everything. The next thing that we see as problematic is being off routine, you know, maybe you are on a specific schedule, maybe you have certain supplements that you’re taking, or maybe you’re really reliant on a specific meal times, and maybe you’re going to have Thanksgiving dinner at 3pm. When you normally eat dinner later than that, or maybe you’re having lunch at a weird time, it can be very hard to be off routine, especially when you have digestive issues. And so I would just think about how you can focus on what you are what you can control versus what you can’t. And what you can’t control is waking up having a really good routine in the morning, prioritizing having breakfast, and maybe you have to adjust the rest of your meals throughout the day. Maybe your lunch is at 2pm. So you have breakfast and a snack beforehand. Or maybe there’s appetizers out and you enjoy those. And then you shift the rest of the meals throughout the day, just keeping in mind that you’re going to want to eat every couple hours, you know if you’re in a different place, and that’s what’s different about your routine, I would still try to stay in some sort of routine as much as possible. And again, focus on what you do have control over. So maybe you have control over how much sleep you can get. Maybe you have control over what time you can go to bed, getting a walk in the morning, you also can control how you eat, not necessarily what you eat. So you might be able to control that you chew really well. That you take a really deep breaths before you consume your meal that you try to eat in a calm, relaxed environment. As much as you can around family. Maybe you bring some ginger tea with you to ease some of your symptoms in between or after the meal. There’s lots of things that although it might feel like you’re out of control, there are lots of things that you can control. And so that can make it easier. I know one of the things that came up on that one of the calls this past week was about different bathrooms feeling nervous about going to the bathroom, in other people’s homes or in a hotel or outside of their normal environment. And that can be hard. And so there’s a couple really practical examples are things that you can use here. One is if you typically have a Squatty Potty at home, flip over a trash can and use that as a squatty potty or try to elevate your knees in some way If that’s not something that’s available to you, there are travel squatty potties, by the way, which I’ll link in the show notes if you want to try one, but you could travel with one of those. Or maybe it’s just the embarrassment of going. Number two, there are things called PooPourri that you can bring with you and your travel, I’ll also link that in the show notes as well. So there’s ways to make the situation a bit more comfortable. And, you know, a lot of times when we’re traveling during holidays, we can get anxious about the amount of things that are outside of our control. And we can ruminate over those, it’s really easy to focus on the negative versus the positive. But I would really try to be proactive in considering the situation and look at what is in your control. And really just make a plan for those things. Maybe you need to just write down a loose plan of like, here’s how I’m going to navigate these situations, here are the steps I’m going to take or here’s kind of my toolbox, my roadmap, whatever you want to call it, just have it saved on your phone in case you forget. And so it’s easy to access afterwards. And just get a little bit creative. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about this beforehand, talk to your husband, partner, friend, family, whoever if you need to. So you have some accountability, and so you can have some help, and so they know what your plan is beforehand, as well.
Dr. Heather Finley 16:23
Another thing that I think is really helpful to focus on too is balancing your blood sugar, which I’ll have another full episode on this, hopefully in 2023. But one of the reasons that your gut might feel off track during the holidays is not balancing your blood sugar. And if you’re like what the heck does that mean? This means that maybe you are not pairing those carbohydrate rich foods, things like grains, and even starchy vegetables, fruits, breads, rice, etc. With the friends that they need. I always tell our clients, you need your your carbs need to have friends. And those friends are protein and fat. And so you can focus on balancing your blood sugar by one eating, of course, regular meals and snacks. But also making sure that you’re including plenty of protein, and plenty of fat for blood sugar stabilization at each meal, so that you’re not having these, these spikes and these dips in your blood sugar levels, that could actually lead to some of the symptoms. Because when your blood sugar is unstable, it really is going to affect your gut. And it’s going to make you feel even worse. That’s where you can get these massive energy crashes. feel really tired in between meals feel really tired, especially in the afternoon, if your morning meal wasn’t balanced blood sugar wise. And can it just it can just make everything more stressful. But one of the main questions that we often get from clients and I know definitely came up on our holiday workshop. Last week was about what if we want to eat pie? Or what if we want to have dessert? What should we do. And one of the dietitians on my team named Stacy who has been on past episodes, I had a really great analogy that I wanted to share with you. And she explained eating like childhood. So imagine yourself as an eight year old, you are an elementary school. And both school and playtime are extremely important. I think we can all agree on that no child should be sitting in school all day, it is really important for their brain to go outside and play and be creative and run around and burn off energy and have fun. And so at school, we learn to count to the ABCs grammar, how to read. Of course, all of those things are important. But like I said, play is really important to for creativity, imagination and just building relationships, having fun. So if we just went to school, your your child or you yourself as a child would not thrive. And if we just played we wouldn’t Thrive either. So both of these things are really important. We can think of school and play kind of like food. So we want to get all the nutrients that we need each day in via the food that we’re eating. But we also want to play too, and that’s where some of these sweeter foods, the pies, the cakes, the desserts that you don’t necessarily eat all the time. Come in. It is really important for you to enjoy those foods. Because food is so much more than just nutrition food is memories. Food is connection food is exactly what we just did in the beginning of this podcast. You remember things from the past. You remember the smell The pie that your grandma used to make you remember the taste of it. So what I want you to remind yourself of here is that one beneficial or quote unquote healthy meal isn’t going to create health. And one, dessert or pie isn’t going to take away health. It’s a balance, and you should enjoy these foods. It’s the daily things that we do the balance that we have in our lives that really matters. And so all that to say, it is important to enjoy the things that you like, because you’re going to be okay. And in fact, we really see that as a part of healing. A lot of times clients come to us in the gut Together program, having been on Super restrictive diets for years, and they haven’t enjoyed holidays, because they feel really isolated. They feel like they can’t eat the food because they’re on a restrictive diet. And they feel so free when we tell them Yeah, you should eat that you should enjoy it. Because as I mentioned earlier, even the stress about food can sometimes make the symptom worse than the food itself. So keep this in mind this holiday season, and get excited to maybe enjoy something that you haven’t had in a long time. And what we typically tell our clients speaking of blood sugar balance is trying to consume those foods with a meal. So maybe because a pie or a cake or something is higher in sugar and isn’t something that you normally eat, it would be best to have it with a meal that has protein and fat, it’s going to help you balance your blood sugar a bit better, versus eating it by itself. So there’s a strategy, if you are looking to try the pie or have whatever it is you really like, have it with your meal and see how you do. And I bet that you’ll really enjoy it. And then really, the last tip that I have for you is to hydrate. A lot of times around the holidays, we are consuming more alcohol than normal. And for a lot of people with gut issues, alcohol can definitely be a gut trigger. Again, I’ll have another full episode on alcohol, if that’s something that would be helpful. But it is important to stay hydrated. And especially if you’re on my side of the world, it’s it tends to be colder during the holiday holiday times. And so we tend to drink less water just naturally. And so if you are drinking enough water, it’s going to help your constipation, it’s going to help your bloating, it’s going to also if you have diarrhea help that as well. And so you need to think about how can you hydrate and also how can you hydrate properly. So not just drinking water, but drinking water that has electrolytes and minerals in it. And I will link some of my favorite products below in the show notes. And I do have several episodes on this. I know there’s one episode solely on minerals with Leah, she was a guest on the show and I have several others. So you can check those out as well on more of the why behind that. But hydrating and hydrating effectively is not only going to give you energy, but it’s also going to help you manage some of the symptoms, especially if you struggle with either constipation or diarrhea either way. So in summary, just as kind of a wrap up here. First, I want you to focus on what you can control. And I want you to make a list of all the things that you can control and write them down so that you have them handy. The second is I want you to eat regular meals and not feel pressured to do what everybody else is doing. Stick to what you know works for you, even if it is different. And if that means that you need to communicate that in advance to the host or to your family, then I think you absolutely should, because it’s going to help you to feel more successful. And the more successful that you are, the the better the holidays are going to be for you and everybody else. The third thing is let’s try to decrease the stress around food and work on maybe either trying things in advance. Or if you need to cook things a different way you could do that. But just try to relax before you’re eating and try to make sure that you’re resting and digesting while you’re eating so that your body has the best chance of being able to tolerate that food. Number four is try to manage a routine as much as you can. Even if it looks a little bit different try to stick to some level of structure throughout the day. And then number five is balance your blood sugar and hydrate properly throughout the day. So this was a short episode, but it is a busy time of year so I wanted it to be super actionable and helpful. And I hope it was helpful and for those of you in the less happy Thanksgiving. We will see you on the next episode of the love regret podcast.
Please note that this episode is not a substitute for medical advice. And you should always consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes.
I’m giving your gut a thumbs up because you just finished another episode of the love your gut podcast. Thanks so much for listening in to this episode. I hope it was helpful.
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