Preventing festive flare-ups of IBS

Preventing festive flare-ups of IBS

Monash FODMAP Team, 19 December 2015

This Christmas, many of us with IBS will suffer bloating, wind, abdominal discomfort and/or disturbances in bowel habits - even those us who normally have good symptom control. The combination of high stress levels with excessive consumption of rich foods and alcohol at this time of year can be a recipe for tummy trouble. Here are 5 tips for minimising festive flare-ups of IBS:

1.Continue to eat balanced meals and snacks

Cocktail party food tends to be high in fat – a gut irritant – and contain hidden FODMAPs in marinades, dips, sauces and fillings. The more you consume, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of IBS. Therefore, continue to eat regular meals and snacks, including something before you go to the event - ideally a balanced low FODMAP light meal with protein, salad/vegetables and starch. This way you won’t arrive starving and be tempted to eat every canapé in sight!

2. Fill up on low FODMAP wholefoods

Whether it’s drinks and nibbles or a sit-down meal, there will be foods you identify immediately as low or high FODMAP and others that you’re unsure of.  Try to fill-up on those you know you tolerate and simply sample those you’re unsure of. 

Party foods to enjoy - peanuts, hard yellow cheeses, olives, rice crackers, sushi, rice paper rolls, cold meats, smoked salmon, fresh seafood, plain barbequed or roast meats, roast vegetables and greens, onion free salads and fresh berries. 

3.Enjoy alcohol at alternate events with low FODMAP foods

Alcohol is a gut irritant. Try to indulge in alcohol at alternate events, enjoying alcoholic beverages at one event and drinking sparkling water with lemon or lime at the next. If possible, enjoy alcohol at events where you know there will be low FODMAP food options available and choose sparkling at events with limited low FODMAP options.

4.Plan recovery phases

Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms. Don’t over commit yourself this festive season and do schedule some early nights at home. On these nights, eat a well balanced low FODMAP meal, drink lots of water, have no alcohol and limit screen time to promote a good night’s sleep.

5.When you can bring something, bring a low FODMAP option

When you need to bring a plate, bring something you enjoy and tolerate well. Here are some yummy low FODMAP variations to traditional festive favourites:


Smoked salmon makes a delicious appetiser but is often served on bagels or bread. For a low FODMAP twist on a smoked salmon appetiser try:

·Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Appetizer and replace Greek yoghurt with lactose-free yoghurt or sour cream if lactose is an issue for you

·Smoked Salmon Fingerling Potatoes and use lactose-free sour cream if lactose is an issue for you

·Gluten-free blinis with smoked salmon and again, use lactose-free sour cream if lactose in an issue for you


Platters make for fabulous entrees. Try:

·Italian style antipasti plate but omit garlic and opt for spelt sourdough rather than regular bread


Modify traditional stuffing recipes by:

·Infusing oil or butter with chunks of garlic and onion, then removing chunks.

·Using gluten free bread or bread-crumbs instead of regular. I recommend, using toasted cubes of gluten free bread.  

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