How planning ahead can prevent a flare-up over the holiday season
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, Christmas can feel like a digestive onslaught. With mulled wine and festive treats everywhere you look, it’s easy to get carried away in the moment – but the after effects are painfully memorable.
This year don’t let IBS get in the way of festivities. Follow these top tips from nutritionist Kym Lang from Enterosgel
1. Plan ahead
Managing IBS can be a challenge during the festive period, but with planning you can keep your symptoms under control. If you’re going to eat at someone’s house, give them a list of your trigger foods in advance so they can offer alternatives. If you are nervous about it, eat before you go. Then simply complement your host on their cooking and tell them you are not very hungry. You could also take snacks in case there are no IBS-friendly options. When dining out at a restaurant, I recommend that you look at the menu beforehand and make sure there are meals you can eat. Or, suggest a cuisine that you know won’t trigger a flare-up – Japanese is a good choice, as it’s rice-based (less likely to cause an urgent trip to the toilet) with small portions.
2. Take time out
Christmas can be anxiety-inducing. Whether you are worried about festive meals you can’t eat or spending time with people you don’t often see, the increased stress can make IBS worse. It’s important to look after yourself and take time out to relax. Remember, you don’t need to say yes to every social occasion. Spending some time by yourself, or in the company of your nearest and dearest, will help you stay calm and content. Whether this is eating a quiet breakfast each morning or taking yourself for a long walk, your body will thank you for it.
3. Choose the menu
To avoid unwanted flare-ups, you could offer to host the big day; or just bring along a dish that’s a safe choice for your stomach. You can even make some tummy-friendly snacks to share, to help you swerve the Quality Street box. Something like lemon coconut truffles are easy to make, simply blend macadamia nuts, lemon juice and zest and coconut flakes with vanilla extract, then roll into balls and dust with desiccated coconut. Your friends will complement your kitchen skills without suspecting a thing.
4. Be prepared on the go
The excesses of Christmas food and drink can wreak havoc on our gut, resulting in bloating, diarrhoea and even the dreaded food poisoning. If you have IBS, be extra careful. A pack of Enterosgel sachets available from Enterosgel, Boots, Holland & Barrett and leading chemists, from £12.80, is a great addition to your bag during the festive season. It’s a completely drug-free gastrointestinal adsorbent which is proven to alleviate symptoms of IBS with diahorrea. Enterosgel binds to harmful molecules which can cause IBS as well as toxins from bacteria that cause intestinal infections and food poisoning, and gently removes them with the stool, helping to keep your digestive system happy.
5. Know your Christmas triggers
Favourite Christmas dishes, drinks and desserts can bring on IBS symptoms for some. For others, it’s the large portions that cause chaos. It’s important to know your personal limits. However, tempting, try to avoid your trigger foods and stick to small portions rather than piling food on your plate. A bit of creative thinking means you can still indulge without suffering. Choose broccoli over Brussels sprouts, mustard instead of gravy, a gingerbread man over a mince pie or a small G&T instead of a large glass of red. You’ll still enjoy yourself, without the morning-after effects.