alt=a woman politely refuses a trigger food at a holiday meal

Not Letting IBS Win This Holiday Season

Holidays in the south consist of families getting together, visiting, and eating. For those of us with IBS, that means awkwardness, worrying about making it to the bathroom, and not causing anyone to be upset with us. Until this year, I have always just used medication to help slow flares and ate what I was given. No one likes to upset someone by turning down good home-cooked food, right?

My understanding family

I’m a lucky person in that I have a great family and awesome friends who try to be understanding with my medical problems. Sometimes though, I know it can be hard to sympathize with someone when you have never been in the position they are in. This year is looking different for me, though.

Listening to my IBS

By working hard at listening to what my body tells me, I have realized some triggers that will impact upcoming holidays for years to come for me. My body hates pretty much anything that comes from an animal. I’m not sure why, but it does. Dairy, meat, broths, if it comes from an animal, you can bet it will set off my gut. For years I always thought it was the veggies I ate with the meat until I started really working on changing my food habits.

IBS and family holidays

So, for me, that means the majority of the food offered at most family functions, especially Thanksgiving coming up, will be off-limits to me. I’m not mad about it. To be honest, I have never been a big meat eater. Don’t get me wrong, I would give anything to have one of my daddy’s steaks again, but I’m not letting it get to me as I would normally. While working out my dietary needs, I have found things that work for me when craving meat. There is a huge market out there now for vegetarians and vegans. It’s unreal how awesome the options really are.

Thanksgiving this year

What makes me lucky is my best friend, and her family are vegans. Natalie has worked hard for years to make sure no one in her house ever feels like they are missing out on meat options, especially on Thanksgiving. She has found the best recipes and has perfected them so much so that even people who aren’t vegan will pick her food over theirs most days. It’s great when someone tries her macaroni and cheese and doesn’t realize there is no cheese or butter in it.

This year, as usual, we will be driving down to Tennessee to spend the holiday with family. What will be different this time is that I will be prepared to say no to what I shouldn’t eat and bring myself alternatives if I need to.

If we don’t do what we know is best for our bodies, then who will? Trust me when I say I get it. It’s so much easier to suffer in silence and do what everyone expects and wants you to do, but at the end of the day, you don’t deserve to spend your holiday in pain and stuck in the bathroom. You wouldn’t wish that on your family, so why do it to yourself?

Have you found your voice to be able to speak up for yourself in these situations?

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