7 tips for managing your IBS over the festive season!

FODMAP christmas tree

The Monash FODMAP Team, 02 December 2021

1. Plan ahead

Freeze meals now before the crazy starts to ensure there are low FODMAP options in the house when things get busy. If your symptoms mainly happen when you are out, then you may want to look into preparing some low FODMAP snacks to have on hand and eliminate the temptation to buy FODMAP filled options. Some easy options to have on hand or in the freezer include: savoury muffin, sweet potato & feta frittata or muesli bars. 
Click here for our blog on meal planning!

2. Bring your own low FODMAP share plate

If invited to join friends or family, offer to bring a dish to share e.g. salad or a vegetable mix that you know you can enjoy and will leave you symptom free. Also make sure that this is filling in case this is one of the only “safe” dish in sight. Some of our top picks include: parmesan and thyme roasted parsnipsgrapefruit prawn salad, roast pumpkin and haloumi salad, potato salad with green beans 

3. Think about your drinks!

Alcohol and caffeine can play roles in exacerbating IBS symptoms in some, and can become hard to avoid over the festive season. 

Alcohol acts as an irritant to the gut and our general recommendations include limiting your intake where possible. Another tip when drinking is to consume with food to reduce the likelihood of resulting in symptoms. Similarly, for those who are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to reduce your intake or swap your coffee for herbal tea. Check the app for some suggestions.

4. Snack right

Try and avoid greasy snacks that can exacerbate symptoms. Keep snacks to small serving sizes e.g. 1 serving of fruit, 1 handful of nuts. Regular snacks throughout the day will help to keep us sustained as well as prevent us from overeating at those big Christmas functions and dinners! See our blog on low FODMAP snacks here

5. Fill up on low FODMAP foods first

We know that everyone celebrates Christmas differently, but there should be some safe foods that you can fill up on first on Christmas day or the next Christmas party! Meat products naturally contain no FODMAPs, so any roasted meats that are plain will be low FODMAP. Potatoes, carrots and parsnips are also great Low FODMAP options and make great festive side dishes! Be mindful of gravies or stuffing if you aren’t certain about the ingredients, as these foods can often contain FODMAPs. 

6. Find ways to manage your stress

Despite being one of the most joyous times of year, Christmas can also be a particularly stressful time. We know that stress can be a major contributor to IBS symptoms, so finding some ways to unwind during this time is important! Some of our top tips are:

  • Exercise - this exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Just going for a walk, taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or going for a jog can help. For those with IBS-C (constipation) exercise can help alleviate constipation symptoms and get things moving. There are also plenty of online exercise options available these days – you might like to try out a yoga or pilates class from the comfort of your own home. 
  • Meditate – mindfulness exercises have been shown to reduce IBS symptoms. There are a number of great apps available, or if this isn’t for you, even typing into YouTube ‘body-scan mediation’ brings up plenty of options. 
  • Talk to someone – this may be a friend, colleague or counsellor. If the stress that you are experiencing is high level and is continuing for an extended period of time, then we recommend discussing this stress with your regular GP for extra support strategies.

7. Enjoy!

Most importantly, enjoy this time with your loved ones over the holidays! If a few hidden FODMAPs slip onto your plate, don't panic - it won’t undo all of your hard work. If you get any unwanted symptoms, we have blogs about alleviating diarrhoea or abdominal pain and bloating that might help!

From all of us at the Monash FODMAP team, we wish you all a relaxing break with your family and friends. 

Click here to download our Monash FODMAP Christmas Cookbook.pdf

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