Your Christmas survival guide to help manage your IBS symptoms

With Christmas around the corner the time to “eat, drink and be merry” is upon us..

Does the idea of work parties, finger foods and fizz, lack of sleep, work deadlines send your stomach and IBS into a spin? We haven’t even mentioned family dynamics yet or the frantic race to find the perfect last-minute gifts (surely this isn’t just me?). If you relate to this read on to help you get into the festive spirit and feel more confident, comfortable and in control of your IBS symptoms
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Be merry and mindful


Unfortunately, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings often includes lots of foods that cause bloating and make your IBS symptoms worse – think Christmas pudding and mince pies, brandy butter, brussel sprouts, broccoli, garlic and onions. You don’t need to avoid all these but maybe be more wise with your choices e.g. opt for a small portion of Christmas pudding and avoid lashings of brandy butter or choose less gas producing vegetables such as parsnips instead of brussel sprouts.


Next the festive buffet table! Many Christmas buffets include high fat processed foods such as vol au vents, quiche, sausage rolls, pork pies and mince pies; all of which can play havoc with your IBS due to the higher fat content. Try to limit fried pastry snacks and choose cheese and crackers or leftover cold meats instead.

Try to be more mindful when eating by:

  • Eating slowly, savouring each mouthful
  • Be present in the moment, take time to put your fork down and enjoy the conversation, ambience
  • Listen to what your body is telling you and try to tune into your hunger cues. Are you eating because of all the food available or because you are truly hungry. When each mouthful becomes less enjoyable with each mouthful or you start to feel full.. stop! You can go back for more later. Eating too much can make bloating worse.



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Add some Christmas sparkle NOT fizz


Bubbles in champagne, Prosecco, beer and cola can leave you gassy, bloated and uncomfortable so when choosing festive fluids opt for a glass of Pinot over Processo and clear spirits are often better tolerated and lower in fermentable fibres i.e FODMAPS than beer and cider.
Secondly be mindful of total alcohol and caffeine intake as these are both known gut irritants and can mess with your IBS



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Don’t be a Christmas cracker!


Christmas is dubbed “the most wonderful time of the year “and whilst this might be true, it is also a time of great stress for many reasons. It is widely acknowledged stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms; have you noticed your tummy plays up more when you are worried, anxious or more stressed? If you feel stress is a trigger for your IBS try to focus on breathing, try some yoga or increase meditation/mindfulness; all of these have been shown to reduce stress and IBS symptoms. Download an app to get you started.


Equally important is physical activity and if you find yourself cooped up over the festive season try to get some fresh air and go for a winters walk.


This article discusses more ways to look after your mental wellbeing over the festive period: christmas-wellbeing


Most importantly I wish you all a Happy Christmas.

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