How to enjoy favorite holiday foods – even with C. diff

(BPT) – With the holidays approaching, many people look forward to cooking favorite meals with loved ones. Unfortunately, gathering around the holiday table may be filled with more anxiety than joy for those who are suffering from C. difficile infection, or C. diff.

Caused by bacteria with the same name, C. diff takes hold deep inside the gut microbiome – a collection of microscopic life forms, good and bad, that are in the stomach and intestines and play a role in how the body works. A balanced microbiome is crucial to maintaining overall health, and an imbalance in the gut microbiome may give harmful bacteria like C. diff the chance to take over, leading to C. diff infection.

C. diff infection is a life-threatening condition. It can affect anyone, primarily people who are taking antibiotics, have spent time in a healthcare facility, have a weakened immune system or are above age 65. Sufferers experience severe diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain, among other symptoms.1

Declared a public health threat by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requiring urgent and immediate action, C. diff causes an estimated half a million illnesses and tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. alone each year.1,2,3

In addition, up to one-third of people experience recurrent C. diff infection, meaning that just when it seems as if the infection is gone, it comes back. The effects of recurrent C. diff sometimes go beyond physical pain. It can trigger depression and other mental health concerns, too.

Many foods can trigger symptoms and typically, patients need to follow a strict diet when they are recovering, making family gatherings stressful and difficult.

Eating gutfriendly foods is one way sufferers can regain strength and rebuild their gut microbiome.4

A balanced gut microbiome benefits the body in many ways, including helping to break down and absorb nutrients from food, working with the immune system to protect the body from infection and helping with overall health.5,6,7

While no two people are alike, there are foods that sufferers should generally avoid, including dairy products with lactose, greasy foods and any foods that may cause bloating (e.g., broccoli, onions, beans). Although changing a person’s diet won’t treat C. diff infection, switching out ingredients in this year’s holiday recipes may help sufferers enjoy some family favorites.

Check out these gutfriendly holiday meals and substitutes:

  • Appetizers: Pumpkin soup, chicken noodle soup, fruit salad and deviled eggs
  • Proteins: Baked chicken, roasted turkey, tofu, miso paste breaded chicken and quinoa
  • Side Dishes: Rice, cornbread, baked potato (prepared alone), cooked beets and steamed veggies (like green beans)
  • Desserts: Banana bread, oatmeal cookies, vegan pumpkin pie bites and sherbet

Make sure to consult a healthcare professional for more information and nutritional advice for foods that are best suited for your body type and C. diff infection.

Visit or C. diff Focus on Facebook to learn more about C. diff infection.

This piece is sponsored by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group committed to helping people around the world live better lives.

Food tips are suggestions developed in partnership with Dr. Sonali Ruder, a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician, trained chef and cookbook author. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to guide gut-friendly food choices that are right for you.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is C. Diff? 17 Dec. 2018. Available at:
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biggest Threats and Data, 14 Nov. 2019. Available at:
  3. Fitzpatrick F, Barbut F. Breaking the cycle of recurrent Clostridium difficile. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012;18(suppl 6):2-4.
  4. Ward C, Kelly C. Clostridioides difficile infection: Is there a role for diet and probiotics?. Pract Gastroenterol. 2020; 44(9): 26-34.
  5. Antharam VC, Li EC, Ishmael A, et al. Intestinal dysbiosis and depletion of butyrogenic bacteria in Clostridium difficile infection and nosocomial diarrhea. J Clin Microbiol. 2013;51(9):2884-2892.
  6. Thursby E, Juge N. Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochem J. 2017;474(11):1823-1836.
  7. Marchesi JR, Adams DH, Fava F, et al. The gut microbiota and host health: a new clinical frontier. Gut. 2016;65(2):330-339.

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