Holiday BBQ Tips for Those With IBS

One of my favorite parts of summer is going to BBQ hangouts with my friends and family. July 4th is usually celebrated with one, but they also pop up throughout the season on lake days and sunny Saturday afternoons. Like many food-centered parties, a BBQ can be hard to navigate with IBS, so I wanted to share a few tips you can use to get all of the joy out of these hangouts without the dreaded symptoms.

Talk to the host

The first tip is simple, but can be one of the most challenging. Before the BBQ, have a conversation with the host. You don’t have to share the details of your symptoms, but you can mention your main food triggers and simply ask what the plan for food is. If they’re planning to grill burgers, hot dogs, or chicken, you can ask that yours not be pre-marinated or spiced with high FODMAP ingredients, like garlic and onion. If they’re unable to accomodate, you will know you to bring your own. You can also ask that a small portion of salads or other vegetable dishes be set aside without dressings or spices, so you can add your own. I know many of us struggle with these conversations because we don’t want to seem needy or high maintenance, but it truly never hurts to ask. Be respectful and kind, and ask about accomodations without demanding or expecting them. If they happen, amazing. If they don’t, you now know how to prepare.

Another thing you can do here is be the host yourself! Feel isolated by IBS and your food restrictions? Host your own party and create a full low FODMAP menu!

Come prepared

Don’t show up to a BBQ empty-handed and expect to have plenty of food choices. Bring a low FODMAP dish that you enjoy and that will be satisfying to you. If you know there won’t be a protein without added high FODMAP ingredients, bring your portion and ask that it be cooked separate from the others or ask to cook it yourself! I like to bring a few dishes so I know I have plenty of options, and it gives me the chance to share some of my favorite recipes with my friends and family.

You can also bring portions of your own low FODMAP ketchup, bbq sauce, and salad dressing to avoid having small amounts of garlic and onion add up throughout the day. Seems kind of embarrassing to do, but I promise you will feel so empowered and confident having them with you! And guess what, you don’t have to over-explain why you have them. If you don’t bring much attention to it, others probably won’t even notice.

Some of my favorite recipes to make for a BBQ include tabbouleh, bruschetta, loaded potatoes, homemade ice cream, and brownies!

If you’re going to be gone most of the day, like a day on the lake, come prepared with plenty of snacks to satisfy your hunger if there aren’t many food options available for you. Click here for snack ideas!

Be mindful of drinks

You’re prepared on the food side, but drinks are another big part of the BBQ. If choosing to drink alcohol, opt for low FODMAP options, like whiskey, wine, vodka, and gin. Beer may be tolerated, but be aware of the carbonation and wheat content (if diagnosed with celiac disease). Be careful with drink mixers, too, as many can contain high FODMAP ingredients, and keep portion sizes small. Even if the drink is low FODMAP, large portions of alcohol can lead to digestive issues and IBS symptoms.

Stay hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water. Avoid carbonated drinks, like seltzer waters and sodas, as those could lead to bloating, and beware of excessive caffeine from coffee, teas, and sodas. My favorite drinks include water infused with lemon/lime or berries and decaffeinated iced teas!

As always, remember that you’re there to enjoy community and relationship with your friends and family. If you feel stressed about your food options, use the tips above and practice mindfulness throughout the day to take care of your mind. If you need a few minutes of breath and meditation, slip away to do what you need to do, then come back!

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for navigating holiday parties and hangouts. Comment below to share!