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For a healthy gut during holidays, go easy on the sweet stuff

Navigating the holidays healthfully can be tricky. 

Many challenges present themselves: over eating, food cravings, belly bloat, constipation etc. 

One particular issue that often gets overlooked is yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs). During the holidays it is easy for these issues to become a problem in people who are prone to them. With the increase in intake of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, combined with the decrease of water intake,  if you are especially prone to UTIs, you may want to take note of these tips. 

  • Really focus on drinking more water. 

Dehydration is very common in the winter when you stack up the crazy schedules, dry heat from the fire place and the diuretic effect from alcohol and caffeine. 

At parties, drink water first before any other beverage (better yet, drink 16 ounces on your way there). Keep a cup of water or hot herbal tea in your hand while you socialize. 

That way you absent-mindedly sip water instead of beverages that dehydrate (and add pointless calories). 

It might not look as sophisticated to tote water, but your body will thank you later.

  • Include cranberries. Those sour, marble-like berries aren’t just for Thanksgiving or Christmas decorations. They are powerhouses of antioxidants that help the urinary tract, oral cavity and stomach.

It was previously thought that cranberries changed the pH of the urinary tract and killed the bacteria-causing UTIs. Now, however, research confirms that cranberries don’t kill disease-causing bacteria but rather keep them from adhering to urinary tract walls. Other fruit juices, such as apple or grape do not have this effect. 

A daily dose of either a quarter cup whole cranberries (fresh or frozen, preferred), one-fourth of a cup (2 ounces) of 100-percent cranberry juice, or one-third of a cup of dried cranberries can be used to prevent reoccurrence of a UTI. (Do watch out for overdosing on the sugary dried cranberries.  They contain a lot of calories!)

Unless you like sour foods, cranberries might not be up your alley, so you may need to treat them like that nasty cough medicine when you were a kid – ”plug the nose and down it goes!”

  • Try specific probiotics.  The probiotic, Fem Dophilus by Jarrow is a fantastic brand that OBGYNs have recommended to their female patients of all ages. 

After looking into it, I have recommended these to some friends with chronic UTIs and whenever they take them daily, they’ve avoided infections. It is a different story when they go off of them. 

This probiotic is particularly good for prevention of a UTI. (Note: I receive no compensation for my recommendation of this brand. I just recommend what works.)

  • Stay sensible on the sugar. Simply put, refined sugar feeds disease-causing bacteria and yeasts. The less you eat of it, the better off you are in your fight against an active UTI/yeast infection. 

During the holidays I won’t necessarily tell you not to eat sugar at all if you have a UTI or yeast infection (because you do need to live a little, right?), but be very choosy about what sweets you decide to enjoy. Less is always more in this case.

Below are two recipes to try this holiday depending on if you want to include those good-for-you cranberries or to use up your winter squash in a sweet dish.

Enjoy! And happy 2018!

Maple Cranberry Brussels Sprouts Recipe


1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts

3 tbsp avocado oil

2 tbsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper omit for AIP

227 g fresh cranberries

3 tbsp maple syrup (Grade C)


Preheat your oven to 400F

Trim the stems off of the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half

Add the cut Brussels sprouts to a bowl and add all the ingredients (except the maple syrup) and stir well to combine

Spread the Brussels sprouts and cranberry mix onto a baking sheet, in a single layer

Bake for 15 minutes

Remove from oven and add the maple syrup, and stir well to combine

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (until as crisp as you like)

Remove from the oven

Serve and enjoy!

– Originally from Pure & Simple Nourishment

While this recipe doesn’t have cranberries originally in it, it still is a seasonal recipe that is perfect for using up that winter squash you may be wondering what you are going to find uses for. (Dried cranberries would add eye-catching color on the top as a garnish. )

Simple Butternut Squash Souffle 


1 medium butternut squash

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup milk (coconut milk is a creamy milk alternative)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

4 egg whites


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour (try arrowroot starch if gluten-free) a casserole or souffle dish.

Poke the squash all over and microwave for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. (or cut in half and cook for 6 minutes on Manual, High heat in the Instant Pot)

Let cool a bit, cut in half, scoop out seeds, and scoop flesh into a food processor.

Add the egg yolks, milk, salt, and pepper to the food processor.

Process until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Whip the egg whites until stiff.

Fold the egg whites into the squash.

Transfer to the soufflé dish.

Bake for 40-50 minutes

– Original recipe by Heather Reslinger of Create Delicious

Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and owns a nutrition counseling business called The Pantry Lab LLC.  She lives in the Lebanon area with her husband and baby daughter.  To learn more about Cathryn, visit her Facebook page or You Tube Channel by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.” Find her blog at thepantrylab.com