The holidays are a time of gathering and celebration, but let's be honest, the holidays can also be nerve wracking! This time of year is full of temptation, and we are constantly bombarded with foods that may not agree with our health goals or our IBS. Add travel and the stress of deadlines, obligations, family dynamics and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. However, not all hope is lost! Check out these tips and tricks to enjoy yourself an IBS-free holiday:
Stay stress free
Believe it or not, stress is a very common trigger of IBS! The holidays tend to be a stressful time for some people. Whether it be deadlines at work, traveling long distance, or family dynamics! If your holiday is as stressful as the all of the movies make them out to be, try out some of these tips to help reduce stress:
- Relaxation techniques or meditation:
- Try taking a few deep breaths. This sounds simple, but it can make a world of difference when you're feeling overwhelmed! Stopping to take a few deep breaths or using some breathing techniques before or during a stress-inducing situation can put you in a better mindset and help calm your nerves.
- Incorporate some guided meditation into your daily routine leading up to the holidays. Get into the habit of taking some time out of your morning or afternoon to stop and regroup. There are tons of guided meditation videos online that you can try. Entering a situation after taking a few minutes to meditate and relieve some stress can help you keep calm.
- Get a good night's sleep! This one is so important. Lack of sleep is known to cause irregular mood and exacerbate stress levels. So make sure you get your full 8 hours!
- Delegate tasks when you're hosting. If you're hosting the holiday party this year, it can be helpful to delegate tasks to lessen the load on you! This will help alleviate some of the stress that comes along with having a long to-do list for the party.
- Do a pot luck! Have everyone bring a dish to contribute to the party, this way you will only have the obligation to make one main dish.
- Set up the day before, so you're not trying to do everything under a time crunch. Have someone come over and help you if that will lessen the load on you!
BYOD: Bring Your Own Dish
Bringing your own dish is a great way to ensure you will have something to eat at the holiday party that will agree with your IBS. If you bring enough to contribute to the spread, you will be the host's favorite guest and you will also feel at ease knowing you have a safety net in case all of the foods there don't agree with you! Check out these low FODMAP holiday recipes to find your next BYOD!
- Low FODMAP Cranberry Maple Marinated Chicken
- Low FODMAP Cranberry Sauce
- Low FODMAP Soy Egg Nog
- Low FODMAP Fennel Roasted Carrots
Tell someone about your IBS
Friends and family will be more understanding than you'd think. It can be helpful to tell the person you're attending the party with or someone you'd be spending a lot of time with that you may have to excuse yourself for a few minutes to use the bathroom if your symptoms start to flare up. This also makes it easier for you to exit the gathering early if you feel uncomfortable or if your symptoms worsen. If you feel comfortable, it can also be helpful to tell the host. They may have a separate bathroom that you can use for a little more privacy!
Alcohol has been shown to worsen IBS symptoms in some individuals. If you are aware that alcohol is a trigger for your IBS, limit your consumption or eliminate it all together at the holiday party. Instead, you can stick to water since hydration is also key for people who have IBS-C to avoid constipation.
Make an escape plan
If all of these other strategies fail and your IBS is just not giving it a rest, you'll need a good escape plan. Letting the person you are attending the holiday party with know about your IBS and the possibility of having to leave mid-party will alleviate any further discussion while you're there. You can always say you have another obligation that you may have to attend.
Have you joined our IBS Support Group yet? Led by Kaitlyn Willwerth MS, RD, use this Q&A group as a forum to learn from experts and support the community.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.