How to Navigate Thanksgiving with IBS

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I love spending time with family, eating yummy food, trying out new recipes, and welcoming the Christmas season. Although I do love the day, I can get really anxious about how my IBS symptoms will affect my day. Will I have to turn away some of my favorite dishes? Will I be miserable after the meal and miss out on my family traditions, like putting up the Christmas decor? Will I be embarrassed using the shared bathroom for my body’s response to the food?

If these are concerns you are having this week, know that you are not alone. While there’s no easy way to completely eliminate all symptoms, I wanted to encourage you with some tips to minimize them as much as possible. This is not individualized nutrition advice, so know that these tips are not a one size fits all approach. If you want a customized plan for the holidays, apply to become a client so we can target your specific needs.

Communicate your needs & contribute a dish!

If you have triggers that will cause symptoms, no matter how small the serving serve, communicate those to your family members. Everyone may not alter their recipes, but some may change the dish or create a separate dish for you! You can also contribute a dish that you love, without a single trigger. This will help you have one dish to fill up on, while you try the rest!

Be mindful of portion sizes.

The portion size of a trigger or entire meal can be the key to preventing symptoms. Instead of pilling a mountain of food onto your plate, keep portions small. You can save a little of what you loved most or dishes you didn’t get to choose to enjoy as a snack or meal later on. Chew slowly and really enjoy each bite to avoid eating your smaller meal too quickly and feeling unsatisfied.

Start the day with fiber & drink water.

Prioritize a fiber-rich breakfast, with no triggers, to support the digestive system early. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to also support digestion and prevent constipation.

Move your body.

Movement aids in digestion and also helps reduce the stress of what to/not to eat. Start your morning with light yoga or a walk, then find ways to move with your family after the meal. Play a game of football, go for a walk, or play active games inside.

Don’t stress it.

This is the hardest one, but avoiding excess stress will help prevent symptoms. Planning ahead of time, communicating your needs/fears, prioritizing the tips above, and finding times for mindfulness will help you keep the stress level down and the gratitude level up!

I hope these tips help you as you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. If you have any more tips to add or encouragement for fellow IBSers, comment below!