It's the most wonderful time of the year
For those of you who are blessed to have fully functioning digestive tracts and immune systems, you might think I'm being a bit of a "bah hum bug" about the holiday season and ask "WHY?" "WHY IS THE HAPPIEST AND FOOD FILLED TIME OF YEAR SO DIFFICULT FOR YOU? Well, you pretty much partially answered part of your own question....
The purpose of this post is to EDUCATE those with digestive struggles on how to handle the holidays with minimal digestive issues but ALSO CREATE AWARENESS to those who might not understand your choices during the holiday season.
TOP 5 REASONS FOR FLARES DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON:
1. FOOD - and LOTS of it, the kind that is made with love but may also contains foods/ingredients you cannot tolerate, irritants or triggers for symptoms, such as high fat content, high fodmap ingredients, gluten, lactose, alcohol, etc.
2. STRESS - The holidays, while filled with love, can be filled with stress for others (trying to find the "perfect" gift, worrying over if there will be anything you CAN eat at the holiday party...)
3. TRAVELING - Being out of your comfort zone/own element can cause GI distress which results in symptoms. Did you know that airplane change in air pressure can also cause bloating and pain?
4. DIFFERENT SCHEDULE - our bodies like routine and a schedule, the holiday season can often throw this off kilter, which can create symptoms
5. OVERINDULGING - if you usually cannot eat something, when it's available to you, most people have a tendency to overeat the item, (I know I am guilty of this when it comes to cake...like the time I ate HALF of my gluten free dairy free engagement party cake and was super sick the next day....)
TOP 5 HEALTHY HOLIDAY TIPS (for those trying to be FLARE UP free)
These tips are based on MY IBS experiences - but might be beneficial for other digestive conditions
Looking at the list above, I created suggestions on how to have a HEALTHY AND HAPPY Holiday !
1. FOOD - ENJOY WITHOUT GUILT, EMBRACE THE POSSIBILITIES OF SYMPTOMS
- Be PICKY about what foods you want to enjoy, and embrace their deliciousness. Maybe pick one or two items that are MUST HAVE's on your list, and fill the rest of your plate with healthy choice
(As long as you are not eating something that you are intolerant to)
- UNDERSTAND that certain foods MAY cause you symptoms and be prepared for this (especially if it's something high fat or high fodmap you do not not typically eat)
- K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple silly Before and after holiday parties/meals with foods that are easy for you to digest and bland. It will help keep your digestive tract from being over worked since it will be in overtime from all the holiday deliciousness. (My go to's are grilled chicken/salmon with kale/green beans and quinoa)
2. STRESS - PRACTICE SELF-CARE & SELF-LOVE
- Find a HEALTHY way to cope with your stress, WHATEVER the root may be - maybe it's meditating before your day starts, practicing gratitude daily (with a journal, or app - this one is my FAVE), going for a walk outside, hitting up the gym, running, painting, taking a bath - there's plenty of ways to find self-care that works for YOU - just make sure you carve out some time daily for YOURSELF - you cannot fill others up, if your own cup is empty
3. TRAVELING - BE OVER PREPARED - Pack extra medication, clothes, & safe snacks/food to eat
- IF you are flying, make sure you have an aisle seat so you can get up
- IF you are driving, make sure you have some set stops for bathroom/time to eat
- BRING EXTRA MEDICATION - no matter what, even if it's just for a day trip
- Bring EXTRA clothes - whether it be to change into for the worst case scenario or your super cute but super tight outfit is no longer an option if you are bloated
- STAY HYDRATED WHEN TRAVELING AND MAKE SURE TO NOT STARVE
--> That sounds silly, but often when people are trying to get from point A to point B quickly, they forget to drink water and stop a moment to have a nourishing meal
- B.Y.O.F. - bring your OWN food, if necessary, or at least snacks, so you know you have something safe to eat
4. DIFFERENT SCHEDULE - Try your best to keep to your routine, but also, be willing to let it go
- IF you tend to wake up early and eat breakfast before heading out, make sure you still eat breakfast, but give yourself grace if you sleep in a bit (especially if you are going to bed late)
- Gotta go to the gym type of person? REFRAME your mindset of exercise for your time during the holidays - go for a walk with loved ones, do a quick at home/hotel work out, park far away for extra steps. Do what makes YOU feel comfortable, but DO NOT sacrifice loved one time or experiences just to go get in a lift/run at the gym...
5. OVERINDULGING - ACCEPT IT AND MOVE ON
- Unless you have IRON CLAD willpower, at some point, you MAY overindulge, on food or alcohol this holiday season, and for anyone with digestive issues/disorders, THIS is usually the culprit in creating symptoms.
- ACCEPT the fact that you MAY have eaten four serving of sweet potato pie, half a cake, an entire dozen of Christmas cookies, too much sangria, WHATEVER is is, AND MOVE ON.
- You do not NORMALLY eat that way, so, give yourself some GRACE and move forward
- Reframe your thinking from "oh my god, I ate so much ________, I feel bad" to "WOW, that was delicious, how lucky am I to have eaten that, I may have symptoms, but they will pass"
- Are the holidays hard for you ?
- Do you have any healthy holiday tips for those with digestive issues?
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON?