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  • Writer's pictureRobin Thomas

Gut Friendly Foods for the Holidays

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

The sweet smell of a hundred baked treats, candies that melt in your mouth, and of course, all the chocolate! I love the flavors of the holidays. Sadly, although I love them so much, too much of these comfort foods upset my gut balance, and therefore my ability to stay on top of my game, healthy and full of energy.

Still, there are plenty of ways to make your holiday meals more microbiome friendly. Check out these tips, foods, and recipes to help you balance your belly through this hectic time of year.

Basic Tips to Balance Your Belly

A lot goes into keeping your microbiome balanced, but here are four simple steps that can get you started.

  • Remove: Cut out foods that contain toxins, hormones, chemicals, processed sugars, or additives. They may cause an imbalance in your gut bacteria.

  • Repair: Eat plenty of foods that contain prebiotic fiber or take supplements. This helps support your current microbiome as is.

  • Replace: Eat certain herbs, spices, and supplements that can replace stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

  • Reinoculate: Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria by eating probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods.

The key is to make sure you’re supplementing your microbiome with plenty of probiotics and then supporting those probiotics with prebiotic fiber.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics are everywhere, you just need to know where to look.

Asparagus, jicama, apples, broccoli, beans, and whole grains are all loaded with fiber and prebiotics to help support the good bacteria already in your gut. Bananas, onions, garlic, flaxseed, and seaweed also aid gut microbiome health. Many of these foods are also rich in inulin—a class of dietary fiber linked to overall digestive health.

For probiotic-rich foods, look for vegetables or dairy that have been through some kind of fermentation process. Foods like pickles, miso, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir are bursting with healthy probiotics that can help your gut microbiome flourish. Still, pickles contain a lot of salt, so eat them sparingly. And make sure to eat sugar-free yogurt.

Cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, oregano, and turmeric can also keep your belly balanced. These, and many other herbs or spices, can encourage your body’s natural process of creating digestive enzymes.

Put it All Together in a Meal

Now you know what foods are good for your microbiome, but we still need to put them into delicious dishes your family will love. Here is a meal full of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods. Try them on their own or make the whole meal. Your tummy will love you!


With its brightly colored and crunchy veggies, this salad is great for stimulating digestion through our eyes, nose, and taste buds. A little bit of a crunchy raw salad such as this at the beginning of a meal can help turn on your digestive juices with the physical action of chewing as well. And it tastes pretty fantastic!


Brussel Sprouts are a great source of prebiotic fiber to help nourish your microbiome. And the added salmon will give you a boost of omega-3 fatty acids.


Turmeric has been shown to help healthy digestion and produce digestive enzymes.Turmeric also eases digestive discomfort, and boosts your immune system. Full of antioxidants, turmeric helps cleanse and heal your liver.


And to top it off, ya gotta have chocolate, right? This recipe uses all natural ingredients, and dark chocolate is extremely high in antioxidant power and very low in sugar. It’s the perfect special treat that’s also perfectly good for you.

I help individuals stop feeling powerless about their health by guiding them through ways to get started with healthy habits without becoming overwhelmed. This is a time for connection, not for “going it alone”. Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to talk.

Robin Thomas worked for 25 years in Medical Research at UNC. She left UNC to start her own Wellness Business in 2004 and founded Living Well Connections, a community for people whose passion is healthy living, in 2015.

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Many thanks to and for their inspiration for this article.


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