Navigating The Holidays

Christmas time; that joyous time of year where family and friends come together to enjoy the holidays. I’d love this time of year if it didn’t stress me out so much! No, it’s not the planning, the making sure you have the perfect gift or the decorating¬Ö It’s that horrible four-letter word that brings up fear in anyone suffering from an IBD. FOOD.

My Biggest Holiday Stressor

For me, food is a daily stressor that causes questions to run through my mind; Will what I’m about to eat bother me later, even though it didn’t bother me last time? Will what I ate for breakfast mix badly with what I’m having now? Can I get away with cheating? It’s a non-stop rollercoaster that has honestly taken away the once love I had of food.

If it stresses me out this much when I’m in control of the menu, you can imagine how much more it stresses me when I’m not in control of the menu. This time of year does not only entail meals at family and friend’s homes, I also have several work parties that my husband and I are required to attend as well, which means lots of unknown menus.

No Shame In Asking

Not everyone knows about my health issues; however, before I go to anyone’s home for a meal, I always reach out. I explain to them how I have an IBD and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing the menu with me, just so I can plan ahead. I’ve had several offers to change meals for me (which is very sweet) but, I always ask that they don’t. Chances are there will be something I can have, and if not, I either eat prior to going over or bring something of my own I know won’t bother me.

My husband has also got into the habit of asking for a menu for any work parties we have to attend. If it’s nothing I can have, I’ll simply eat before we go.

Plan Ahead

I’ve had an IBD for almost nine years now and I am pretty strict in my daily diet. By doing this, I can (on occasion) get away with cheating and eating something that might have bothered me in the past when it was frequent in my diet. For example, I LOVE a good steak! Sadly, too much red meat is a big no-no for me, but if I’m careful the majority of the time I can get away with enjoying it a few times a year. If I know steak is on the menu for an event, I will default to my safe foods a couple of days prior so I can take the risk.

Choose Wisely When Playing the Combination Game

It never ceases to amaze me how (for lack of a better word) how weird IBD’s are. With time, I’ve figured out combinations of foods that work and don’t work together. If I want that steak, I need to skip the awesome desserts. If I want the desserts, I need to eat a safer main meal like chicken or fish. If I want wine with my meal, I need to skip the red meat and the dessert. I will admit, there have been times where I’ve thrown caution to the wind and choose to have it all! The wine, the steak and the dessert, and was it ever good. But as always, my body reminds me I just can’t eat whatever I want and I always ended up regretting it later.

Figuring Out What You Can and Can”t Have

If you haven’t quite figured out what foods are on your naughty or nice list, a good way of doing this is keeping a food diary. Track daily for at least a good few months (I did six) and track in your Pack Health Journal how you feel each day. By comparing the two, you can start to see patterns of what foods or combinations of foods are bothering you.

Your Pack Health Advisor is a great person to talk to about this. If you’ve identified your triggers, they can also help you come up with a plan for a belly-friendly feast.

Try not to stress too much about food and the holiday season. Although food is a big part of Christmas get-togethers, the most important part is spending time with those you love! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


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