IBS and the Holidays: Everyone’s Favorite Couple!

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat… Yes, that’s right, ladies and gents, the Holidays are upon us and what does that mean to those afflicted with IBS? Food, food, food…fatty, creamy, cheesy, sweet…FOOD. As a person who doesn’t imbibe spirits of any kind (at least not for the most part of the last 13 years), I am no stranger to the discomfort of saying NO at holiday parties. Would you like a beer? No, thank you. Would you like an aperitif? No, thank you kindly. Martini? Whiskey? I said no, didn’t I!?!In any case, folks with IBS face a similar struggle when faced with pies, gravies, Gramma’s Green Bean Casserole, cakes, cookies, brownies, ducks…gooses? While people may not be trying to jam cookies down your throat, it is still really important that we keep our heads about us when surrounded by such bounties.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Some of us wait all year long for the holiday dinner that Aunt Betty makes. It will take some, or a lot, of willpower to keep from eating that sausage stuffing or apple pies that she conjures. Hopefully, and probably, if you have IBS, you know what triggers an episode. Take a hard look at what’s being served and make a mental (or actual, if it helps) note indicating what foods you can get away with without serious consequences. I think the most important question we need to ask ourselves is, is it worth it? Is it worth missing days of our lives over a piece of pie? If it is, then go for it. From my perspective, I know that most of us do an awful lot of hard work with our diets and medication and such and it would seem a shame to feel really bad physically and maybe mentally over some gravy or something.

I mentioned earlier that I used to have people forcing drinks on me at holiday parties and that this might not be a problem with IBS. Let me clarify; it won’t be AS BIG of a problem. Some family member always takes it upon themselves to make sure everyone is eating, right? Someone WILL say, ‘don’t you want any of these brownies?’. ‘Why aren’t you having any ice cream?’ Pie, Gramma’s Greenbean Casserole…on and on and on. It’s easy to say you’re having stomach issues or the like and most people will leave you alone. If you’re ok with it, and depending on the family member, you might even want to try being honest about your IBS and see how it goes over.

Oh, it just dawned on me…some of you DO imbibe (drink alcohol). Umm…alcohol’s not supposed to be very good for IBS, is it? Depending on your family traditions, there may be copious amounts of booze flowing at your family party. People will get pushy about the fact that you’re not drinking if you have in the past, especially after THEY have had a few drinks. Strength and reserve, my friends. It’s not about them, it’s about you. And you have IBS. There is no shame here guys, we just have to do a little more food and beverage management. Again, we really just have to weigh the pros and cons and ask ourselves the important questions. If you slip, don’t get down on yourself. It’s a hard thing to suppress our desire to participate in this particular aspect of holiday parties. Remember though, it’s really not about the pies, cookies, beers, wines or gooses. It’s about spending time with our people. The people we love and cherish. The real tradition is family and friends and not fruit cake. Oh, I know you don’t like fruit cake… Happy Holidays and god bless us, every one.

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