How To Enjoy Thanksgiving When You Have IBS

Published on: 11/08/2022

How To Enjoy Thanksgiving When You Have IBS

Thanksgiving will be here soon with all the celebration, family time, travel, and, of course, the indulgent meal. For someone with IBS, this can be a challenge.

The large portion sizes, alcoholic beverages, the many courses in the typical Thanksgiving meal, and the presence of FODMAPs may trigger gut symptoms such as uncomfortable bloating and gas, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel movements.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can enjoy Thanksgiving without having to “pay for it” with gut symptoms.

5 Tips to Enjoy Thanksgiving When You Have IBS

1. Don’t skip meals

It is common practice to “save room” for the big meal by skipping breakfast and/or lunch before the holiday meal. If you arrive at the dinner table starving, however, you are more likely to eat a larger amount of food than you normally would and feel bloated, and experience other gut symptoms.

Be sure to have a good breakfast and, if needed, a light lunch or filling snack before the Thanksgiving meal (tip: rice cakes & peanut butter or lactose-free yogurt with some fruit). It will be more likely you can enjoy moderate-size portions of your favorite holiday items without overdoing it.

2. Keep your FODMAP intake low

Plan your meals earlier in the day to include mostly low-FODMAP foods so you don’t fill up your FODMAP “bucket” and go over your personal threshold for FODMAPs.

Oatmeal with low-FODMAP fruit and/or nuts and a lactose-free yogurt, or scrambled eggs with veggies and sourdough toast are excellent ways to have a nutritious, filling breakfast without having fermentable carbohydrates.

This strategy will allow you to have more room for high-FODMAP ingredients to splurge on in the holiday meal and you will be less likely to experience gut symptoms.

3. Choose your “splurge”

Choose your favorite high-FODMAP dish you get to eat only at this time of the year and enjoy it!

Whereas you can have mashed potatoes or ice cream all year long, there may be a dish (is it apple pie, or stuffing, etc?) you don’t get to enjoy often, so prioritize that over other high-FODMAP ingredients.

4. Take a breath

It’s also a good time to remember that food is not the only trigger for IBS symptoms. Stress is a major one as well. For many, the holidays can be hectic or stressful. Or, the mere fact that you are eating foods that you didn’t prepare yourself or fear that might trigger an IBS flare can create anxiety.

To minimize this, take a few deep breaths before the meal to set your body into a “rest and digest” mode and decrease any anxiety you may be having around eating the holiday meal for fear of symptoms.

Relaxing and enjoying the food without worry can greatly decrease the chance of experiencing gut symptoms.

5. Enjoy yourself!

On that note, remember what is most important to you during this Thanksgiving holiday (time with family, the opportunity to take time off, etc.) rather than obsessing about the food (will this dish trigger my IBS symptoms?).

Enjoy the celebration, and your time with friends and family rather than obsessing about the food. Keep a positive mindset and be kind to yourself and you will be less likely to experience symptoms even if you eat trigger foods.

If you need help with finding relief from your IBS symptoms I can help!

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Book a free IBS Clarity Call today!

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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

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