Only a week to go now! So have a look at these IBS Christmas survival tips.
Christmas is a wonderful time, but it is full of what affects IBS sufferers most: IBS triggers like food, drink, people and tension. And this year all the tension around Covid isn’t making this any easier!
So take a step back before the festivities begin and anticipate what you CAN do to make it all go as smoothly and enjoyably as possible.
For the run-up to Christmas
Whether you’re busy at work trying to get things finished or doing last-minute Christmas shopping, here are my top IBS Christmas survival tips to prepare yourself – and your body:
A few relaxing baths with Epsom salts can be very beneficial and help you unwind.
Remember to start singing Christmassy songs in the shower to get you into the Christmas spirit – even if everyone thinks you’re mad! It’s good for morale and gets you breathing more deeply too – something we forget to do when stressed.
Of course, try to keep yourself away from your food triggers as much as possible in the run-up to Christmas.
Eating lightly in the evenings and not grazing afterwards will help your body to prepare for the festivities ahead. Yes you will have to ignore all those ads for chocs – so get your blindfold ready!
Don’t forget some essential oil of exotic basil applied to your abdomen in a carrier oil (coconut oil, hand-cream). This can really help ease bloating.
Stock up with whatever brings you relief or that you need in case of a flare-up (maybe antispasmodics, anti-reflux tablets, paper towels, change of underwear etc) and remember to have them with you if you need them.
Think ahead and keep in house foods that do you good when you have a flare-up just in case. It’s not when you feel bad that you will want to go out and look for some!
On Christmas Day
Breathe! Its’ Christmas!
This year you may well be seeing some family on Zoom, and fewer people face to face.
Food triggers: Be polite, be fun, but be firm
Remember that when you are repeatedly offered food and drink, it is just your host making sure you have what you need. It’s OK to politely refuse, even several times.
Compliment them on what you already had, or on their house, what they are wearing to take the attention off food!
Have small amounts of what you love. You’ll get all the enjoyment with much less bloating.
If you know some dish will set your IBS off, but you don’t want to insult an insistent chef, ask for just a small serving, and don’t eat it. If it is a side dish, like Brussels sprouts, you can politely refuse saying that you have a lot on your plate.
You don’t have to finish! If you don’t, compliment your host profusely but just say that you can’t finish. Then change the conversation.
Don’t forget that your host just wants you to have enjoyed yourself.
Drinks with large amounts of sugar in them and alcohol are an IBS trigger for many.
So work out in advance what you can drink, and take a bottle with you. (I actually found that Diet Coke was my ally on these occasions
White wine or bubbly on an empty stomach can be particularly bad. If you have no alternative, just take a tiny sip and try to eat something with it. Don’t forget, if you do empty your glass, know that your host will be round with a top-up.
You don’t have to finish your glass. If you have a partner or friend with you, you can even brief them beforehand and swap glasses with them discretely when they have finished theirs. (Yes, I’ve done that!)
Remember that the Christmas period is about celebrating. You have IBS to deal with and that can take away a little sparkle – if you let it.