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Holiday Eating With IBD

IBD Might Restrict Your Diet At Times, But It Doesn't Have To Ruin Your Holidays


Holiday Dinner

Your holiday meals don't have to be bland and boring. You can make some wonderful, festive food and still feel well after.

Photo © Apolonia

Sticking to a diet that is friendly to your body isn't easy. Keeping your resolve during the holiday season is even harder. For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there is no comprehensive diet plan to follow. During a flare-up, doctors may recommend a soft, low-residue diet, or even a liquid diet for a few days to rest the intestines. Trial and error is often how foods that set off symptoms (called trigger foods) are discovered. However, some culprits are common to many with IBD:

  • Milk products: Many adults are lactose intolerant. If you're one of them, milk products may cause bloating, gas, and even diarrhea.
  • High fiber foods: Used as ingredients in many holiday recipes, popcorn, nuts, and seeds may result in cramping or diarrhea.
  • Fried and greasy foods: If fat isn't completely absorbed in the intestines, it can lead to gas and diarrhea.

To avoid trigger foods while attending and enjoying holiday gatherings this season, here are a few tips:

  • Be Honest With Family And Friends
    Let family and friends know what foods you can't handle. If you don't let them in on your dietary concerns, you run the risk of two unfavorable outcomes: Starving at the next holiday party because you can't tolerate any of the dishes served, or eating something you shouldn't -- and paying for it later.
  • Know Your Limits
    It may be tempting to push the envelope, but ask yourself if that dish you're eyeing is worth having the gas and diarrhea later.
  • Stick To Your Diet And Schedule
    Don't get out of the schedule and habits you've worked hard to maintain all year. Try to keep them going to stay healthy during the holidays, too.
  • Know When To Say “No”
    We've all succumbed to pressure to eat and drink things we know we shouldn't. There's no harm in a polite but firm “no, thank you.”
  • And If All Else Fails...
    Bring a dish to share that you can eat. Explain that you aren't feeling well to your hosts. You don't have to get specific if you don't want to -- an explanation of “not feeling well” or having an “upset stomach” usually will suffice. Most people can relate to these symptoms and won't press you to elaborate.

Now that you know how to keep to your diet, there is good news -- sticking to your list of allowed foods doesn't have to be boring. The many tasty recipes from other About.com guides in part 2 of this article contain ingredients from a soft, low-residue diet (a few recipes call for milk or cheese, for those that can tolerate them). Review them carefully, as every person with IBD has different dietary needs.

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