A Guide to Joyful Holiday Celebrations on a Low FODMAP DietPublished on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 by
Mastering Holiday Feasting with IBS: Low FODMAP Tips for Festivities
The holiday season is here, and I know so many of you want to enjoy time with family and friends and not have to worry about IBS flare-ups. With a little bit of planning, you can have a relaxing holiday season and eat foods that will bring cheer to you!
Strategic Planning for Holiday Feasts
DO plan ahead and offer help. Plan several weeks in advance to determine the location of the holiday feast, providing ample time to decide whether to host or offer assistance with preparing food for the gathering. Opting for either role grants you more control over the menu and its preparation—especially beneficial when adhering to a Low FODMAP diet.
Suppose your family and friends are open to suggestions. In that case, you may find it easier to tell them about the specific food triggers you have to avoid (i.e., gluten, garlic, onion, etc) so they can have other options for you. If they seem overwhelmed, it might be best for you to help make several dishes to bring to the feast to relieve some of the burden. If you are hosting the holiday gathering, you can plan ahead and find FODMAP-friendly recipes for holiday foods and plan to make those!
DO be cautious with drinks. Prioritize your well-being by staying well-hydrated with refreshing water. When it comes to beverages, consider limiting those with alcohol or choosing spirits and mixers that are Low FODMAP. Optimizing your well-being often involves moderating your intake of alcohol and caffeine; should you decide to enjoy a drink, savor it in moderation with a recommended 1-2 drink limit. Enhance your experience by enjoying alcohol-containing beverages with a delicious meal, promoting better tolerance and ensuring you can fully relish the moment.
Snack Smartly for Stress-Free Celebrations
DO bring snacks. Having snacks readily available that align with your dietary preferences is a great trick to keep in your pocket. This is great for when you don’t know the host/hostess very well and might feel a bit hesitant making special menu requests. Not only does it make socializing smoother, but it also eases any potential stress, especially when your family and friends are supportive but might not fully grasp your dietary needs. Snacking smartly ensures you are always prepared and can fully enjoy the festivities.
Do be mindful of FODMAP stacking. This is when you consume a variety of Low FODMAP foods, but the total quantity may lead to some discomfort. Using phone apps like the MONASH app, designed to help to track your FODMAP intake and assist you with planning your meals, will help ensure your meals are both enjoyable and gentle on your digestive system.
DO practice mindfulness when eating. This means you chew well and eat slowly at meal times. Listen to your body. Try not to overeat anything. Chewing food thoroughly helps your digestive tract break down food more efficiently and allows your body to absorb the nutrients needed. Once you feel content and no longer remain hungry, pause for 15-30 minutes. If you feel hungry again, it might be okay to enjoy seconds, but try avoiding that “I’m stuffed” feeling.
Nourishing Your Body Amidst the Festivities
DO eat nutritious meals and don’t go to the gathering hungry. If you plan to have a holiday lunch gathering with friends and family, plan to eat a nourishing breakfast that will fill you up for a long while. This will help you feel satisfied if you cannot eat some dishes served during the holiday meal. You want to ensure these meals contain a protein-rich food and a Low FODMAP fiber option. Both fiber and protein will help to satisfy your hunger for a while and prevent you from becoming “hangry” at the family gathering. Don’t skip eating meals because you're holding out for the holiday feast.
Other miscellaneous tips:
*Stay active. Continue your regular routine. Work out, go for a walk, etc., or do whatever you enjoy. Exercise helps your body to digest food and feel at its best.
*Avoid holding your bowels. If you need to use the bathroom, don't hesitate—go ahead! Holding it in can make things worse. Politely excuse yourself, and trust me, no one will be curious. Everyone's focused on enjoying the holiday, and it's totally normal. We all do it!
Savor the Season with Low FODMAP Holiday Recipes
You can make or bring many Low FODMAP holiday recipes to your next celebration. From our sweet Cranberry Crumble Bars and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies to our savory appetizers like these Sausage Balls and Loaded Potato Skins, search our options of Low FODMAP-friendly recipes for more inspiration! There are many great recipes here that you can whip up and bring to your holiday gathering this year!
Take Charge of Your Health and Enjoy the Holidays
I hope you enjoy this year’s holiday festivities and feel the best! Don’t let IBS dictate how you feel; plan ahead and make the most of this time! You are in charge of your health! Talk with a registered dietitian for further guidance or additional support.
Emily HammMS, RDN, CSO, LD