The holidays are the worst time of the year for digestive health. The mix of stress, emotion, travel, family dynamics, and food temptation can do a number on body and mind.
The busyness and overwhelm of this season also cuts down on self care time to balance these stressors. We limp into January regretful, fatigued and with traumatized digestion.
There is something you can do to offset the damage. I personally use two tools that help me a ton.
The first tool prevents me from making bad food choices when I’m hungry and unprepared. The other tool keeps my biome healthy so when I do slip from clean eating my body recovers faster.
The elemental diet
Tool number 1 is the elemental diet. It’s a food replacement shake with clean ingredients that work great for people with IBS and SIBO.
Following a healing diet means always staying on track which means always being prepared. But when time constraints and stress hit, meal prep and planning ahead is the first to suffer. When you are out and about with no compliant food in sight you are bound to cave. And one cheat can set you back a ton of healing progress.
My solution is to carry a few scoops of elemental powder with me in a small mason jar. I pop in in my purse so I can just add water in emergency situations when I’m hungry and unprepared.
And those emergency blood sugar drops happen more often than I like or expect.
What is the elemental diet?
The elemental diets have been used a long time by people recovering from Crohn’s disease and colitis. The intention is to give the digestive system a much needed rest during a severe flare.
It is also used to starve stubborn cases of SIBO.
When mixed with 6 ounces of water, the elemental diet powder turns into a “predigested meal’ with a balanced proportion of protein, carbs and fat per meal.
Each scoop provides 150 calories of nutrition. It is called “predigested” because your body doesn’t have to do any work to convert it to the fuel your body uses for energy production. While body converts carbs into glucose through digestion, the elemental shake supplies straight glucose for instant energy.
It also supplies fat (in the form of MCT powder) for brain and hormonal support and protein in the form of amino acids for rebuilding muscles and organ tissue.
Because these nutrients are already provided in their simplest, broken down forms, the small intestine immediately absorbs the nutrients without any need to digest.
This works well for people who suffer with extremely low stomach acid (characterized by burping, heartburn, GERD, slow digestion or constipation) or any digestive blockages (gastroparesis).
In the past, elemental formulas were not popular due to their unpleasant taste. They were also full of chemicals or processed, artificial ingredients. There is a homemade elemental recipe online that is hard to choke it down due to the taste.
I discovered an elemental formula that actually tastes good. It has fruity notes and a salty finish from the electrolytes. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and has everything the human body needs to survive.
It is used exclusively for 2 to 3 weeks by those battling SIBO, but can also be part of a SIBO diet protocol where one or two meals are replaced by this shake. Every meal replaced by this shake, give the digestive system a much needed break to repair itself.
Why does your digestive system need a rest?
The body devotes much of its energy to the complex digestive process. Digesting is hard work and requires a lot of metabolic energy. If the body is not expending energy to digest it can refocus it’s efforts on repairing and detoxing the body.
But why doesn’t the elemental formula feed bacteria in the small intestine if it contains glucose?
The glucose absorbs immediately at very the top of the small intestine, which feeds you but leaves nothing behind for the bugs.
Your body needs glucose to fuel your brain, liver, thyroid, cells and metabolism. It’s your body’s primary energy source.
The problem with eating carbs that are hard to digest, like higher FODMAP carbs, or having weak stomach acid or digestion is that undigested food particles are left behind. This becomes a feast for the bacteria living in your small intestine and fuels their overgrowth. That is one way that SIBO proliferates.
What classifies many foods as high FODMAP is that their complex structure and fibers make them difficult to digest and break down.
That’s why in the most severe SIBO cases, the elemental formula is tolerated better than low FODMAP carbohydrates. It can be a good choice for people who have intense food reactions (bloating and gas) to carbs.
Though I don’t have SIBO anymore, I still use the elemental diet to replace my meals on the go and keep me from feeling “hangry” when I don’t have time to prepare or pack food.
The elemental diet is highly portable and convenient because it lasts for 2 years and does not need to be refrigerated.
Who should be cautious with this diet?
Also if you are diabetic, you should check with your doctor before trying this product.
If the above issues are not a concern, this could be a good holiday solution for meals while traveling, staying at a relative’s house or avoiding temptation at a party. And generally a great meal replacement for SIBO or IBS when you don’t have time to cook.
My second tool for staying in balance is my prescription strength probiotic, Megasporbiotic. It bolsters resiliency to stress, supports the immune system and tames inflammation after cheats or unintended food reactions.
There are hundreds of probiotics on the market, but I chose this one because it’s different in several ways.
First, the bacteria are still alive, versus the dead bacteria found in most probiotic supplements.
Interestingly, dead bacteria are still beneficial in lowering inflammation. But dead bacteria can’t change the bacterial terrain they are introduced into. Megasporbiotic can do this through a process called quorum sensing.
Quorum sensing is the ability of live bacteria to go into an environment, determine who the good guys and bad guys are and support or kill them accordingly to create a healthy balance.
This probiotic is great for SIBO because it doesn’t have any lactobacilius in it and will therefore not contribute to the current bacterial overgrowth. It will, however, support bacterial balance in the large intestine also.
People with SIBO, who react to many brands of probiotics have an easier time tolerating this probiotic if they start at tiny doses of a quarter capsule every other day and slowly build up to the recommended dose of 2 capsules once a day at meal time.
People have told me that this probiotic helped them banish heart burn and relieve constipation. I also interviewed a former SIBO sufferer who used nothing but Megasporbiotic and a Paleo low FODMAPdiet to get rid of SIBO. Megasporbiotic most likely relieved Rebecca’s SIBO symptoms with the antibiotic effects of quorum sensing. You can watch the interview here.
Megasporbiotic and the Physicians elemental diet are the two tools I use to keep myself on track and in balance during the holidays and other stressful, hectic times like travel, social gathering and work overload.
But there’s one more tool I use in the kitchen when life gets crazy.
My Instant Pot personal chef
The Instant Pot is an electric slow cooker that makes broth in 2 hours, yogurt, the perfect rice every time and amazingly tender meat and roasts. It is my biggest helper in eating healthy when I don’t have time to spend in the kitchen.
All you do is slice up your favorite veggies and cut up meat. Then throw it all in the instant pot with a cup of water or broth and turn it on. It cooks food quickly, perfectly and safely and keeps in warm all day until it’s time to eat. The inner container is made from non toxic stainless steel.
With the Instant Pot there is help in the kitchen even when life gets hectic, so there’s no excuses not to eat right. You do some prep in the morning or the night before, throw it in and a meal is waiting for you when you get home.
In challenging times the right strategy or supplements can make all the difference. With these tools you won’t limp guiltily into January in bad shape.
Both Megasporbiotic and the Elemental Diet are practitioner only brands, which means customers can’t buy directly from the company or off the Internet, but must purchase through a health care practitioners with an account.
If you are interested in these products, drop me a line at email@example.com or contact me from the side bar on my site.
Happy and healthy holidays!
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.