How to survive the holidays with IBS


Christmas is such a special time, with the gingerbread and the Bailey’s, the Christmas pudding and the pigs in blankets. Well, that’s not the case if you have IBS, which I do. Between the bloating, the pain and the emotional strain, irritable bowel syndrome feels a bit like having a period 24/7.

IBS is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system, and according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, 60 to 65 per cent of sufferers are female. I have found myself not being able to move and having to cut dairy, red meat and wheat from my diet. Below I am sharing my Christmas IBS survivor methods and strategies.

1. Know your trigger

Firstly, before I was advised to follow the FODMAP diet, I kept a food journal. Whenever I would eat red meat, drink milk or have cereal I would suffer with delimitating cramps. There will be certain foods that only occasionally trigger your symptoms, such as processed foods or alcohol for instance, start recognising which foods cause you to flare up. There is even technology to help us! The IBS Relief Diary app is a super easy way to track your symptoms and pinpoint triggers.

2. Get medical advice

I only found out about the FODMAP diet, after having spoken to my GP. It wasn’t embarrassing at all and was incredibly helpful. Everyone’s case is different so book an appointment to discuss a treatment plan. Medication can also provide peace of mind and help alleviate your symptoms.

3. Plan ahead

Not planning ahead can easily cause family arguments, because you can’t eat anything off the menu. Research where you are going well in advance, I have even called restaurants and asked what alternatives they offer. Don’t ever feel as though you are being an inconvenience. Restaurants, bars and hotels are set up in a way to offer further options. If you are heading to a friend’s house, offer to bring some food along with you, bring the host a little something and they will have no problem.

4. Be ready

Sometimes you don’t know when IBS can strike, your symptoms can get a lot worse depending on your hormonal and stress levels. One of my closest friends has IBS too, she carries an extra set of underwear in her car and always has tablets on hand. You would always be prepared for your time of the month, so prepare for your IBS too. I also spoke to another friend about feeling embarrassed, this was something I really worried about, before I found out how normal IBS is (2 in 10 people in the UK to be exact).

6. Manage your stress

Lastly, the holiday can be a stressful time, and is a known trigger of IBS symptoms. Set time aside to relax, it can be with a bubble bath, calming music or meditation. Control your IBS rather than letting it control you.

I would LOVE to know what you do to help your IBS. Let’s stick together and let me know in the comments below!

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