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Navigating Holidays with IBD

by: Mackenzie Thomas, MS, RDN, CDCES


There’s something so magical about the holiday season and everything that comes along with it. However, the holidays can also be stressful. Holiday cheer, social events, and never-ending shopping lists can be a challenge for the average person. For someone dealing with a chronic illness, surviving the holiday season can seem like an impossible feat.


Despite Crohn's and ulcerative colitis (IBD) presenting more challenges this time of year, you can still enjoy the magic. Even if food is a big part of your celebrations, you can still stay healthy during the holidays.


Here are some tips to help you navigate this holiday season with IBD:


Eat smaller meals rather than one large “feast”.


The holidays are known as a time to overindulge in all the goodies and treats. While the food tastes amazing at the time, try to be mindful of smaller portions to help prevent GI upset. It’s never fun to be uncomfortable while enjoying time with family & friends.


Avoid trigger foods.


No matter how enticing the food is, if you know it’s going to badly affect you, just say no! The awkwardness of that one moment will pass & save you hours of pain or toilet time, later.


If traveling, bring something you know is well tolerated, or consider hosting!


Often, people who do not have dietary restrictions may find it hard to understand your situation. Bring a side dish or appetizer that you know will work for you in case there is a limited selection. Hosting will give you the opportunity to control some aspects of the food, so this might be a great option if you are anxious about that large holiday meal.


Remember, you have a chronic illness.


Don’t downplay your symptoms or feelings to accommodate other people. If you are having a flare or feel anxious and need to rest, do it. Navigating this time of year that is filled with food and celebrations can be difficult, but always remember to put yourself and your health first.


Resilience for IBD is Resilience for Life!™

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