All day events can strike fear in the heart of many people with IBS, especially if you’ll be sitting in a room surrounded by other people. But what makes them even scarier is when they’re catered and you’re not in control of the food you’ll be eating. So here are some tips on preparing for an all-day event to make it easier for your IBS.
Once you commit to attending the event:
I generally try to keep things simple and focus on my major food triggers that have to be avoided, knowing I can still pick things off my plate if needed.
About 3 days before the event:
Since your IBS may get triggered on the day, the best preparation is to get your IBS symptoms to their lowest possible baseline. To do this, get very strict about removing all known triggers from your life for a few days, so that your symptoms are as well controlled as possible.
At least 1 day before the event:
Do what you can to be prepared for the day so that it runs as smoothly as possible. The aim here is to be able to start the day of the event without stress arising. Here’s what I suggest:
- Prepare some snacks to take with you. While the event is catered, it’s possible they’ll get some things wrong. Also, if you’ve tried to keep things simple by only telling them about your major triggers, it’s possible you won’t be able to eat everything they provide.
- Sort out your transportation. If you’re driving, work out where you’ll park. If you’re taking public transport, work out which buses, trains or trams you’ll need. And most importantly, work out what time you need to leave the house to arrive with time to spare.
- Prepare your outfit, making sure you’ll be comfortable and that you can loosen it if bloating occurs.
- Pack your bag with your snacks, emergency IBS supplies or medications, plus anything else you’ll need for the day, e.g. notepad and pen.
- If you’re particularly prone to stress, try to have a slower day if possible, or at least keep your afternoon and evening plans light.
- Go to bed early so you can get extra sleep and be well rested. And don’t forget to set an alarm for the morning.
On the day of the event:
The actual event will define how the day unfolds, but doing these things will make it easier:
- Allow some extra time to get ready so that your stress levels stay low.
- Try to go with the flow as much as possible.
- Only eat foods that you know are okay for you and be prepared to eat your snacks if needed. If you’re uncomfortable eating your own snacks in front of other people, excuse yourself and go for a short walk outside to eat in peace.
- Keep in mind that there are always options to bail out if necessary. I find that knowing this decreases my stress and helps me to stay symptom-free for longer.
After the event:
Allow time to decompress after the event, that evening and the next day, including time to recover if your symptoms have been triggered. I like to avoid making other plans, letting myself sleep in the next day, and generally taking it easy. I also plan to eat foods that I know are safe for me and that I can tolerate when I’m recovering from triggered symptoms.