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How to manage IBS symptoms during the party season

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16 December 2021|3 min read

The festive season is well and truly upon us.  What is supposed to be a merry time of year can bring with it a lot of grief for those suffering from medically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

This time of year often means more social occasions, whether they be an end of year party or simply dinner out with friends.  

With the right preparation, it is certainly possible to enjoy your festive season of eating out and attending parties without the unpleasant IBS flare-up.

And If you have been recommended a low FODMAP diet by your doctor, there are some helpful tips to follow to have a more enjoyable festive season. If you are not sure what is causing your gut symptoms, see your health professional for advice.

Look up the menu ahead of time

If you’re eating out at a restaurant, look up the menu ahead of time.  Most restaurants have their menus readily available online.  

There are often items that can easily be modified to be made low FODMAP.  For example, a meal that contains safe meat/vegetables but just needs the onion/garlic removed.  

Find an option that is low FODMAP, or at least appears modifiable, and call the restaurant to confirm if they can cater to your request.  If the menu isn’t available online, call the restaurant and explain your dietary requirements to see if there are some suitable options for you. 

Offer to bring a plate

If you’re attending a party, offer to bring a dish that you know you tolerate.  This could be a  seasonal low FODMAP salad to a Christmas BBQ, or curating a delicious low FODMAP cheese platter that you can graze on across the event. This means you know there is at least something suitable for you to enjoy at the party.

Eat safely leading up to the event 

Staying low FODMAP in the days leading up to an event can be a great way to minimise a symptom flare-up if you do eat something high FODMAP at the event.  

Sometimes we can do all the right things to avoid the foods we know can trigger symptoms but end up accidentally consuming them at a function anyway.  

By limiting FODMAP foods and eating well in the days leading up to the event and the days after, you’re likely to minimise the degree of a symptom flare.

Enjoy a nourishing snack beforehand

Eating a nourishing snack or small meal before an event can be a useful safety net in case you arrive at the event only to find there are limited suitable options for you.  

Include something with a source of protein and fibre to help you feel more satisfied (and fuller for longer!) such as:

  • Lactose-free Greek yoghurt with strawberries, passionfruit and pepitas 
  • Veggie sticks (such as red capsicum, carrot and cucumber) + low FODMAP hummus or 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese
  • Chicken and salad sandwich on low FODMAP bread
  • Slice of low FODMAP toast with peanut butter, just ripe banana and hemp seeds
  • Fruit smoothies made with berries, plain or vanilla lactose-free yoghurt and almond milk

Remember your non-FODMAP strategies

Many individuals with IBS will have non-FODMAP triggers that worsen their symptoms such as stress, poor sleep and a lack of exercise.  

Take time to actively manage stress levels, get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water and prioritise regular exercise this party season.  

Also be mindful of common gut irritants that can exacerbate symptoms such as alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods and spicy foods. 

Be kind to yourself

If you do end up consuming something high FODMAP and experience a flare, whether that be intentionally or unintentionally, remember to be kind to yourself!  

Accept that it happened and that you’re human. Manage the flare by returning to a low FODMAP diet and sipping 

on plenty of water the next day.  

Using a hot water bottle and sipping on peppermint tea or warm water with lemon can be helpful for managing symptoms such as bloating and cramping. 

Seek advice from a health professional if your symptoms are more troubling or do not subside with these measures. 

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board December 2021 

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.