A party is the last place you want to be when you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You’re bloated and gassy, and if you’re not desperately searching for a bathroom, you’re sitting in one and missing all the fun.
The holidays come with all the triggers that set off your IBS. Whether your flare-ups kick in due to stress, certain foods, hormone shifts, or illness, ‘tis the season for all things anti-IBS.
But you don’t have to let IBS ruin your holidays.
Dr. Darrien Gaston and our team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in the Beverly area of Chicago, Illinois, offer a blend of traditional and innovative treatments that can reduce your symptoms this winter and all year.
You can do your part by following these practical tips to help you — and your digestive tract — enjoy the holidays.
Know your triggers
If you’ve been living with IBS for a while, you likely know what sets it off. If you don’t, Dr. Gaston can help you identify what triggers your symptoms. The most common culprits are:
- Drinks that contain carbonation, alcohol, or caffeine
- Hormone fluctuations
- Medications that cause diarrhea or constipation
- Poor quality sleep
Once you know your triggers, you can avoid them and reduce the frequency and severity of your flare-ups.
Stress can trigger IBS, and IBS can cause stress. Instead of trying to figure out which came first, you can stop that cycle by cutting out as much stress as possible.
That’s easier said than done during the holidays, but we have a few tips to help you keep calm.
- Skip the mall and shop online
- Scale back and spend less
- Make lists and stick to them
- Attend parties but don’t host them
Learn to recognize the signs that stress is amping up, such as a racing heart, chest pain, high blood pressure, jaw clenching, headaches, and anxiety. You can take steps to alleviate stress and its symptoms by exercising, taking a warm bath, practicing deep-breathing techniques, and listening to soothing music.
Water is IBS’ friend. It keeps the stool soft, so you have less constipation, it rehydrates you after a bout of diarrhea, and it can counter the dehydrating effects of holiday cocktails.
BYOF — Bring your own food
Choosing IBS-friendly foods is tricky throughout the year, but the holidays taunt you with spreads of tempting treats. You never know what you’ll find at your friend’s feast or your family’s fiesta, so take out some insurance and bring your own food.
This way, if you’re faced with dairy-rich, fried, sugary, and gas-inducing dishes, you can have a tasty alternative ready to go. Let your host know you’ll be bringing along a tasty side, and wow them with something everyone will love, including your colon.
If you’re stressed about spending time with friends and strangers at parties because you never know when you’ll urgently need a restroom, do some pre-planning to set your mind at ease. Check out the venue or restaurant ahead of time so you know the location of the closest lavatory.
Just in case, always keep an emergency change of clothes and underwear in your bag or car. If the worst happens, you’ll be ready. Hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes also come in handy.
Don’t do the holidays alone
The holidays are rough on IBS, but we can help. Dr. Gaston specializes in gastrointestinal issues and can reduce your pain, discomfort, and other IBS symptoms. He customizes your treatment plan according to your unique symptoms and condition. He often treats IBS with pre- and probiotics to improve your digestive function and rebalance your gut with healthy enzymes.
Don’t let IBS ruin your holidays. Call us today to schedule an appointment and ensure your gut is ready to celebrate.