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A group of people are gathered for a festive potluck, but a sad-looking man stands off to the left with a drink in his hand and an empty plate.

Avoiding Food to Survive a Night

Every year since I got married to my beautiful wife, we have been throwing an annual party to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We invite all our very close friends and family members over to relive those wonderful moments we shared at our wedding and create new ones. One thing we try to keep a tradition is to make our parties potluck-style, where most people bring either a dish or drink as a contribution. We did it the same way for our wedding and it always seems to work out perfectly because people really put in tender, love, and care into their dishes. As great as my family and friends’ cooking maybe, I avoid eating the food during the party to ensure I will have at least a decent time.

Lamenting the food I avoid

What sucks about not eating at these parties is that I miss out on all the great food people have put their hard work, effort, and money into making. Don’t get me wrong, the food still ends up consumed, just not by me when guests are over. Every single dish always ends up looking amazing and so delicious, and I hear everyone else talking about how great the food tastes. We all know the best compliment you can give someone who brings food to your home, is how great the food tastes. But, unfortunately, I have to avoid almost all of it at the party. Many of the dishes usually contain trigger ingredients, such as onion and/or dairy, or are high carb dishes that will leave me extremely bloated and uncomfortable.

This tactic of not eating throughout the entire party is not the healthiest thing to do, but it is the safest, and it seems to work for me most of the time. However, one thing I learned from the party this year is to make sure I save to-go plates for myself because that way I can enjoy some of the food later, but also suffer in my own privacy if I have to. Heck, what is the point of asking people to make all that wonderful and delicious food, and never try any of it?

Avoiding an IBS flare-up

I have written a couple of articles about my past years’ experiences at my anniversary parties, and I realize one common theme with me every time I throw these parties is that I always avoid eating food to hopefully lessen the chances of dealing with a flare-up. If I were to suffer an IBS attack, I would probably end up rushing to the bathroom several times and staying in there for almost an hour at a time, which I’m sure people would eventually notice. And although many of my friends and family now know I have IBS, I still can’t find the comfortability to deal with my symptoms in front of them.

More importantly, I have so many friends and family members who I haven’t seen in a while that attend these annual get-togethers, and I would hate to be absent or experience intense and distracting pain while I’m trying to catch up and be a good host. My parties usually last for almost 10-11 hours, and the only thing I put in my stomach, for the most part, are liquids. Other than that, I’m summoning up reserves of strength and energy to make it throughout the rest of the day and the clean up afterward.

I wish I could eat the food I want

Avoiding food to survive a night with friends and/or family seems to be a common tactic for many people with IBS. If we want to go out and enjoy our time out with loved ones or acquaintances, then it may take avoiding food for a while in order to dodge a possible flare-up. We wish we could eat whatever we want and not face any consequences, but that is not always a luxury we get to have.

Can any of you reading this article relate? Do you find yourself avoiding food when you’re out with family and/or friends just to be able to have a good time? Please let us know in the comment section below and thanks so much for taking the time to read my article!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Becky Oleson moderator
    4 months ago

    These are great suggestions, Bev5656 and Rosie. Thanks for sharing! -Becky, Team

  • Bev5656
    4 months ago

    What if you all took Imodium AD before the parties? I also see an ad for Xifaxan for IBS-D has anyone tried it?

  • Rosie
    4 months ago

    I make sure I snack two hours before events so I won’t be too hungry or have to rush to the washroom. Parties and Bridal/baby Showers are fun to go to but I do not eat any trigger foods at them. I’ve had IBS-D for 45 years, have many triggers I avoid but still attend events. I tell myself that I am courageous when I go despite the worries.

  • TheOtherJean
    4 months ago

    Rosie- there with you. Was wanting to cancel yesterday morning, but using similar tactics, managed a chilly evening forest nature program walk with the grand kids. Another victory! IBS 30 yrs

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago


    You are courageous, indeed. It sounds like your resilience has helped you to make the best of what is a very difficult illness. Thank you for sharing and I hope today is a good one for you. -Todd, Team

  • 12RiverdaleCircle
    4 months ago

    I avoid eating anything before going to events like sporting events and church where restrooms are not available enough for my comfort level

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 months ago

    You are not alone here 12RiverdaleCircle. Thanks for commenting and sharing. We appreciate you being part of our community. Best, Kelly, Team Member

  • mysweetlife
    4 months ago

    I have IBS-D and I can totally relate to this article.

    The worst times are when I am a guest at sit down dinners. My spouse is amazing when we are guests at sit down dinners and helps me.

    For the first few minutes of the meal, usually push food around my plate, cut food up with a knife, yet consume very little, or nothing. He eats half his plate quickly and then we switch plates.

    This way I can enjoy the conversation and company without drawing attention to myself as to why I’m not eating.

    It can be sad to smell amazing food and not eat. But not worth the potential embarrassment of an attack!

    Then we usually get some of my favorite safe foods on the way home and watch a movie together.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago


    What an amazing spouse you seem to have. Now that’s support! You should feel lucky, a lot of folks around here don’t have that kind of support. Thank you so much for sharing and hope you are having a good day. -Todd,

  • ElectricErin
    4 months ago

    I’ve just done exactly that at a family meal. It’s the pits!! I really struggle watching other people enjoying their food so tend to go off for a walk if I can ‘escape’ until the eating part is over and done with 🙂

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago


    Hey, I do that, too. I have ‘escaped’ many times during family occasions simply to get away from the food, the smells and the eating lol. I think it can be a pretty good strategy at times. Thank you for your thoughts and I hope you are well. -Todd, Team

  • JanMarie
    4 months ago

    I too avoid food when dining out or traveling out of town with my boyfriend. We go out of town several times a month so he can go to his Dr appointments. I really don’t want to gave an IBS flair up when we are at the hospital or on the road.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago


    Know that you are not alone with the difficulty travelling. It is one of the many problems with IBS. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • jablo4
    4 months ago

    I totally have the same issues at parties or even holidays dinners at family or friend’s houses. I prefer hosting parties or dinners and supply most of the food so I can control what is served. I have those who want to bring something make appetizers or desserts that I can resist. When going to someone else’s party I make sure I bring something I know I can eat so I have something to nibble on. Also small bites of some foods I can tolerate so I do that but totally stay away from my big triggers.
    It is very difficult to navigate and sometimes gets me down but then I think at least it’s not life threatening.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago


    Thank you for sharing your experience with this topic. I think its one that many of us can relate to. I think its great that you have the skills to host parties or dinners. I cannot say the same of myself :-). I do, however, try to bring my own food whenever possible. Thank you again and I hope you are having a wonderful day. -Todd, Team

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