This post about C. diff and gut health is sponsored by and developed in part with support from Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year for enjoying good food and reconnecting with friends and family. However, if you or a loved one is living with a C. diff infection, your holiday celebrations may look vastly different than they used to.
Gut health is a challenging issue to deal with during the holiday season. This is especially true for someone suffering from a C. diff infection.
How do you enjoy your holiday celebrations while living with a C. diff infection? What foods should you eat (or NOT eat?) and what other health and safety precautions do you need to be aware of?
As someone who has worked in the healthcare field for many years, I am very familiar with the effects that food and stress have on our gut health. And watching my dad deal with IBS for most of his life has shown me how hard it is to enjoy the holidays when you are never sure how your stomach is going to react.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a C. diff infection, these holiday wellness tips will hopefully help you have a fun, healthy, and safe holiday season. For more information about C. diff infection, check out the Ferring Pharmaceuticals website.
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What is C. diff?
What is C. diff? In the very simplest terms, C. diff is a serious imbalance of the gut microbiome. C. diff is short for the name of the bacteria that causes a particular gut infection: Clostridioides difficile. This disease can affect anyone, but the risk of getting it is higher for people who are taking or have recently taken antibiotics.
Other risk factors include people who have spent some time in a hospital or in a long-term care facility like a nursing home. Individuals with a weakened immune system or the elderly are also at particularly high risk.
What are the symptoms of C. diff
The most common symptoms of C. diff are watery diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, or cramps. These symptoms are usually severe and can last for days.
If not treated right away, C. diff can lead to serious medical problems for the person who has it. A severe C. diff infection can even be fatal.
Sadly, this isn’t an infection that always goes away, either. Relapse of the infection is highly possible–anywhere between two and eight weeks after the first infection. This is called recurrent C. diff.
How does C. diff infection impact your holiday celebrations?
The holiday season can be difficult for C. diff sufferers. So much of the holiday season focuses on food and food traditions. With severe gut health symptoms, these festivities are not always something that C. diff patients are able to fully participate in.
People experiencing C. diff often lose their appetite or fear that food will trigger their symptoms. However, good nutrition is incredibly important for gut health. There are several ways you can modify your holiday traditions so that C. diff doesn’t derail your enjoyment of the season.
Food restrictions for C. diff gut health
One of the biggest challenges to living with C. diff is to modify your diet to improve gut health. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing food for the holidays:
- Stick to water as your beverage of choice. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and other non-clear liquid drink choices.
- Choose fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
- Eat foods high in soluble fiber like oats, bananas, and carrots.
- Cook non-cruciferous vegetables into soups or mixed into smoothies. This helps make them more easily digestible.
- Opt for lean protein sources (such as turkey, chicken, and eggs). Skip the high-fat skin and added sauces and gravies.
- For soups, choose clear, broth-based options instead of cream-based soups that are higher in fat and lactose-containing dairy.
- Eat simple, starch-based foods that are more easily digestible like white bread, mashed potatoes (with lactose-free ingredients), noodles, and crackers.
- Reach for easily digestible grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and millet rather than harder to digest wheat.
C. diff food preparation tips
Food preparation presents challenges if you have C. diff. Making a few simple changes to your holiday meal prep may help you enjoy the holidays a bit more.
Remember, C. diff is more than just a gut health issue. Patients with C. diff infection are also more prone to depression and other mental health concerns, too. Not to mention the fatigue that may make all day cooking marathons more challenging.
Choose easy to prepare meal items. Cooking potatoes in a slow cooker is often easier than minding a pot on the stovetop.
Keep recipes simple like roasting vegetables in the oven instead of trying for a complicated casserole.
Buy some things premade, if at all possible, as long as you know what ingredients are used. Store-bought rolls or sauces are simple shortcuts that take some of the work out of your holiday meal.
Whenever possible, bake or sauté your foods rather than deep fry them to avoid a stomach upset.
Take precautions against spread
C. diff is a very contagious infection. It can become a serious health threat to others in the home and the community if certain precautions aren’t taken.
If a person with C. diff does not wash their hands after using the bathroom, the germs can spread to others who touch the things they touched. If you have C. diff, be incredibly conscious of washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces with bleach to minimize spread.
Find joy in the simple things
While for some people, the holidays become all about the food, for C. diff patients, holidays have to become more than that.
Choose simplicity. Whether that is a simple holiday craft you can do while you watch TV or a short after-dinner walk with friends and family. Find ways to stay close to home in case of an upset stomach and to minimize how much energy you use in holiday preparation.
And remember, C. diff is more than just a gut health issue. It can be overwhelming, both physically and mentally. If you are struggling with depression or just need someone to talk to about your health problems, reach out to your doctor for guidance.
You CAN enjoy the holidays with C. diff. They may look different than you are used to, however, that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as special.
Make sure you ask your doctor about what you can eat during and after C. diff before you plan your holiday meal. Check out the Ferring Microbiome website to learn more about C. diff and gut health this holiday season.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.