Eating Through the Holidays With C. Diff

Sponsored by and developed in part with the support of Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

Food is one of our favorite parts of the vacation. But when our gut health isn’t optimal, indulging in some of our favorite dishes and desserts can actually make us worse. As someone who has had their fair share of bowel problems after taking antibiotics for Lyme disease over a decade ago, I can tell you this is no party. C. diff infection, short for Clostridioides difficile infection, affects the gut and can be particularly difficult to manage at this time of year.

Here we have some simple tips and tricks for managing your symptoms while on vacation so that you or someone you love can still enjoy the season.

Our digestive tract, commonly known as the “gut,” is home to a variety of good and sometimes bad microorganisms. Together, they make up our gut microbiome. The good guys help us a lot. They provide us with a large part of our immunity, keep the intestinal lining healthy, produce B vitamins as well as vitamin K, and also break down complex plant fibers so that the body can then use them for an important form of energy. . They also help flush out harmful microbes and are essential in helping us stay healthy. Without enough of these good “bugs”, an imbalance occurs, leaving room for more harmful microbes to take over and make us sick.

C. diff is one of those not-so-helpful villains. In fact, this bacteria can settle deep in the gut and cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms that can make celebrating the holidays difficult.

How does someone get C. diff?

C. diff often affects older people, but the rest of us are not totally immune.

C-diff can affect anyone who:

  • Is taking or has recently taken antibiotics
  • Has a weakened immune system
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Spent time in a hospital or long-term care facility (e.g. nursing home)

Although sometimes necessary, antibiotics remove both bad and good bacteria from our systems. If the good bacteria are not renewed, it can trigger this imbalance which can give C. diff the green light to take over.

The CDC reports that you are 7 to 10 times more likely to have a C. diff infection also on antibiotics the following month.

And once we get C. diff it is not uncommon to go into a cycle of recurring infections called recurrent C. diff, which usually occurs between 2 and 8 weeks after the first infection.

C. diff is also very contagious and can become a serious threat to the health of other people living in the same house or in the same space. It can even be spread by healthy individuals.

Read here on tips to reduce the spread of infection.

What are the symptoms of C.diff ?

Depending on the severity of your infection, symptoms of C. diff may include:

  • Watery diarrhea – 3 or more times a day
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Dehydration
  • Depression due to recurrent infections

Visit Shoe the microbiome for a full list of C.diff symptoms

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor immediately to get a proper diagnosis. C. diff can potentially lead to serious health problems if not treated properly.

Sometimes the effects of relapsing C. diff go beyond physical pain. It can also trigger depression and other mental health problems. For mental health issues, contact a mental health professional for advice and support.

Eat while on vacation with C. diff

Food and diet can become a source of anxiety for people with C. diff.

Not only do C. diff people who suffer from it need to radically change their diet, but some of the foods and ingredients in our favorite holiday dishes can exacerbate the symptoms.

C. diff can make the celebration of the holiday season centered around those stressful and difficult food-fueled gatherings we all love.

Which foods should you avoid C. diff?

As with any infection, a healthy diet and good nutrition are helpful ways to support your gut health. But before you get into what you should eat with C. diff, let’s discuss what foods and drinks you should avoid to minimize symptoms and help you heal.


Fatty foods and unnatural oils, including:

  • Margarine
  • Olean and Olestra
  • Fried dishes

Foods high in insoluble fiber such as

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cucumbers, peas and tomatoes

Raw cruciferous vegetables including:

  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • kale
  • Rocket
  • Onions

Unpeeled or raw fruits such as:

  • Unpeeled oneapples and pears
  • Cranberries
  • Berries
  • Prunes
  • Appointment

Dairy products rich in lactose such as:

  • Cow milk
  • Ice cream
  • Soft cheeses like brie

Sweets, sweet or spicy foods, including:

  • Cakes, cookies and pies
  • Hot peppers and hot sauce

Drinks containing caffeine such as:

Foods and drinks to enjoy with C. diff

While enjoying these foods, it is best to eat and drink in smaller portions, but more frequently throughout the day.

These recommendations are generally acceptable, but avoid any food that you think makes symptoms worse and ask your doctor what you can eat during and after C. diff.

Lean protein including:

Sources of calcium, including low-lactose or non-dairy milk and cheese if tolerated Like:

  • Mozzarella
  • Swiss
  • feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Hemp, soy, almond, flax or oat milk

Foods with soluble fiber that are easily digested, including:

  • Oatmeal, oats and flax seeds
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Peeled apples and pears (the peel reduces fibers that are difficult to digest)
  • Carrots

Starchy foods that are easy to digest such as:

  • White bread, toast, pretzels and crackers
  • Mashed potatoes (without butter or cream)
  • Noodles
  • White rice

Healthy cereals:

  • quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat

Spices that are good for the intestines like:

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric

Naturally fermented foods that are easy to digest and provide probiotics that can help rebuild your microbiome:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Miso

To note: Food labels will indicate whether they are naturally fermented or provide live active cultures. Pickles or pickled sauerkraut, for example, do not provide the same benefits to probiotics.

Soups, bone broths, and broths that can nourish and hydrate your body while replacing electrolytes, including:

  • Bone broth
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Miso soup (miso is fermented, which means it has added probiotics)
  • Pumpkin soup

Stay hydrated!

  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day in divided amounts to keep your body hydrated.
  • Avoid water that is too hot or cold
  • Try decaffeinated herbal teas
  • Juiced vegetables like celery are healthy and can boost nutrients

Discover a delicious sample holiday menu for C. diff below

Aperitif: stuffed eggs, dairy cheeses and vegetable or tolerated crackers, carrot sticks with yogurt and herb dip

Soupe: Pumpkin soup

Having dinner: Roast chicken with steamed green beans and lactose-free mashed potatoes

Side dish: Cornbread and applesauce

Dessert: Oatmeal cookies, vegan pumpkin pie or cinnamon baked apples with oat crumble

To learn more about C. diff and how to manage it visit Shoe the microbiome

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