How to Keep Your Gut Happy This Holiday Season, According to a Dietitian

Only you can know what foods taste amazing and feel right in your body. But every so often, it’s helpful to turn to the experts to make sure we’re getting all the nutrients we need and fueling thoughtfully. Enter Hannah Cooper, a registered dietitian known across social media as @eatwellwithhannah—she’s our go-to expert on all things nutrition. Take it away, Hannah!

Let’s be real: this time of year gets incredibly busy, and being super strict with your wellness goals is just going to add more stress to the holiday season.

Fun fact: our gut and our brain are connected by what we call the gut-brain axis. When we’re stressed, sad, or even happy, our gut can experience different effects. To keep your gut health and your mental health in tip top shape during this crazy season, here’s what I recommend:

  1. Reduce alcohol consumption. Who doesn’t love a good glass of eggnog? I’m right there with you. A drink here and there during the holiday season is totally fine—but the sugar (and calories) can start to add up. Switching to mock-tails or choosing a lighter drink, like a light beer or a wine spritzer, are easy ways to decrease alcohol intake, stay on track with your goals, and have a happy gut.

  1. Incorporate gut-friendly foods. Foods containing prebiotics and probiotics are key when it comes to gut health. Prebiotic foods—typically foods that are high in fiber, like onions, apples, barley, and oats—feed the gut microflora. Probiotic foods contain live microorganisms that help support the good bacteria in our gut; yogurt, kombucha, and fermented foods are all great sources of probiotics. Not only do these foods support the gut, but those that are high in fiber also help keep us regular! 

  1. Follow the 80/20 rule. Eating well doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach—it’s all about flexibility. Enter: the 80/20 rule, a loose rule to help you find balance throughout your days, weeks, and months on your health journey. 80% of the time, try to focus on whole foods (like whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean protein) and drink lots of water. Then, the other 20% of the time is for fun, less nutritious foods. (Hello, Christmas cookies.) This rule can be applied to your day or even your week; it’s a mindset shift that allows you to reach your goals without restriction!

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