Surviving The Christmas Period with IBD

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How did Christmas come around so quickly? I can’t believe it’s less than a week until Christmas day. Already, I’ve been bombarded with meals out, drinks and general festivities and my gut is struggling. I actually went to see a nutritionist which wasn’t a particularly positive experience (probably a whole other blog post). I thought I’d create a quick blog post sharing the kind of things I do to keep myself on track and some tips for surviving the Christmas period with IBD and other gut issues.

 1. Do your research before going to social occasions. I talked about this in my ‘eating out at Christmas post‘ but it’s something I think is really important and although it’s a bit embarrassing, I would really urge you to call the restaurant beforehand to see if they can accommodate you if you have any dietary triggers. Knowing the restaurant, the menu and how accessible it is can really put your mind at ease.

2. Keep hospital info close to hand. Is that really pessimistic? Probably- I do get really anxious around this time of year in case I’m unwell and feel stranded- I always make sure I’ve got info of my local walk in centre and GP/IBD Nurse opening hours (just in case!) and that I’m stocked up on my medicines. I have previously paid to go private in the past (although I haven’t felt the need since I discovered the IBD nurse service)  but private hospitals can be one option if you’re panicked over the Christmas season since many are open all over Christmas and have little or no waiting times.

3. Have supplements to hand to help. Digestive enzymes can be helpful to deal with big meals especially if they’re high in fat. When we eat, saliva releases digestive enzymes and many of the other organs in the digestive tract do this too. Those with IBS and IBD can sometimes have low levels of the enzymes- for example: lactose intolerance can be really common with those with other gut issues and this is because the body doesn’t make enough lactase- which helps the body break down lactose. You can get a general digestive enzyme supplement that can support the body in ensuring it has enough to break down food. You might also consider Betaine and Pepsin if you think you suffer with low stomach acid and as a result can’t digest red meat (This is really common and I’ve explained it in my Indigestion blog post) More on supplements in this post.
4. Have gut rest days. I’ve been scheduling these after Christmas meals- they tend to involve a lot of bone broth and juice- a pain but it can help your gut have a chance to recover. Of course, if there’s more serious symptoms such as bleeding you should always see your doctor but if it’s mild gastrointestinal disturbances, then this can help if you know you’ve overindulged. Bone broth is one of the most helpful things I’ve found for gut rest days- you can add chicken and rice noodles to it for an easy to digest meal- it’s got l-glutamine and amino acids which can help repair the gut lining. Read more in my post on bone broth here . I also tend to do juices and smoothies on gut rest days and eat plain foods such as chicken, fish, rice, potato (although these can make symptoms worse if there is a bacteria issue) I go into more detail in my  free ebook on my 24 hour flare up plan.
5. Go easy on alcoholAlcohol can cause issues for many reasons. Gluten and Yeast can be an issue with beer. Histamines can be a problem with wine- interesting fact antacids can also make you more susceptible to a wine intolerance as it increases the amount of histamines in your body and of course, alcohol is essentially a toxin, so too much may cause an issue. If you are drinking (and lets face it, most of us will!) you may want to try Milk Thistle to support the liver and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration (since alcohol is a diuretic and dehydration is a big issue with IBD anyway)
6. Take care of stomach pain. Have a read of this post for my top tips on dealing with stomach pain. with suggestions on natural tips and tricks to help deal with it.
7. Pack a ‘rescue kit’ Keep one in your car and another in your handbag. This can include emergency meds, relief such as indigestion and upset stomach remedies, a bottle of water for hydration and a hot water bottle– plus plenty of easy to grab snacks that you know are safe for you.
8. Take time to rest and deal with stress. Remember that just because it is Christmas doesn’t mean fatigue and exhaustion go away. Find ways to make sure you have plenty of rest and relaxation before the big day.
And finally- enjoy yourself! A Balanced Belly is all about living a balanced lifestyle and part of that is letting your hair down! As always, it’s about balancing what you know your body can handle with social occasions- don’t feel guilty if you overindulge, just follow my tips above to give your body a way to get back on track.
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