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5 Tips for Managing Your IBS over the Holidays

You spend a lot of time and energy all year long managing your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) —  ‘eat this,’ ‘don’t eat that,’ ‘where’s the nearest restroom?’ It doesn’t seem fair that you also have to sacrifice all your favorite flavors and foods during the holiday season, aka the holidays. 

At The Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia, we want you to enjoy yourself as much as possible this year, because constant sacrifice and avoidance can be stressful — and stress is bad for your IBS. Dr. Melissa Delgado and our team of women’s healthcare professionals, Wendy Roberts, CANP, and Amanda McClay, CNM, WHNP-BC, have come up with some strategies to help you not only manage your IBS through all the festivities, but also to have fun doing it.

1. Don’t stress out

Since we just mentioned it, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about the role of stress in your IBS. Stress and IBS have such a tight relationship, it’s hard to know which came first. But we do know that too much anxiety and stress can make your IBS flare-up, so you should avoid it like a greasy burger.

Identify the things that cause your heart rate to speed up, like crowded malls and parking lots, financial worries, and hosting parties. Then change things up this year: shop online (early if you can), make a budget and stick to it, and let others do the hosting.

In addition to those defensive moves, make a few offensive plays as well, by proactively reducing your stress with long walks in the park or a swim at the gym.

2. Bring your own food

Before you write this off as a ho-hum way to party, if you have the right attitude, it’s actually a great opportunity to have a lot of fun with your food. Sure, you have to stay away from certain things like dairy, broccoli, beans, and cabbage, but there’s never been a better time to experiment with the ingredients that are IBS friendly — and don’t forget that turkey makes that list!

Imagine your host’s delight when you bring a delectable salmon dish to the soiree or a colorful crudité platter that wows their guests. There are countless creative and IBS-safe recipes online that will satisfy everyone’s palate — even yours.

3. Drink plenty of water

Hydration is key when you have IBS because it softens your stool if you tend to get constipated, and it replenishes your body if you lean toward diarrhea. Sugar-free juices are a great choice for replacing electrolytes, but steer clear of alcohol, which can rob you of hydration. 

4. Be prepared

Preparation makes living with IBS so much easier. For instance, if you’re meeting friends to watch a tree lighting in the park, go online and check the area for the nearest restrooms. In fact, you can even download an app on your phone to locate the closest loo.

Being prepared also means keeping essentials handy. Keep a change of clothes and undergarments in your car, backpack, or purse, just in case. Cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, and a disposable plastic bag are good to have on hand as well.

Also, pack a few protein bars or other healthy snacks to keep you from overeating and triggering your IBS symptoms. If you take any medications to treat cramps, diarrhea, or constipation, make sure you have a good supply of those as well. Planning ahead has an added bonus of reducing your stress level.

5. Come see us

The best way to manage your IBS over the holidays is to begin the season with your symptoms under control. Dr. Delgado and our team can help you find the right treatment for your unique symptoms.

For more tips on how to take control of your IBS, contact us at our Vienna, Virginia office at 571-261-8069, or request an appointment online. We can help you look forward to the holidays.

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