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  • Masarat Jilani

Ways to keep your gut happy this holiday season

An IBS gut can be unpredictable at the best of times. But adding the holiday season to the equation may make a happy gut seem impossible. It doesn’t have to be that way!

And that’s because even if you do not normally have gut issues, the holiday season can wreak havoc on your bowels! We all find ourselves overeating and overindulging during the holidays, and that is ok because we are only human! But did you know that there are ways to try to keep your gut happy and enjoy the foods you love? Don’t believe it? Read on to find out more!


Feed your gut


With the hectic holiday season approaching, it may seem tempting to skip some meals, but you shouldn’t do this! The worst thing you could do is avoid eating because you are worried about the IBS-related consequences. Food is fuel and you should never avoid it - your survival depends on eating it every day. Instead, you should try and add some things to your diet to try and prevent the effects of IBS.


For all types of IBS, drinking enough water or fluids is very important - so make sure you stay hydrated. You can spice it up to keep it festive! Why not add some cinnamon and cloves to hot drinks? Or even some peppermint! Peppermint has been proven to help with tummy pain and bloating.


Soluble fibre is also important for your gut in all types of IBS. So why not try some festive-themed oats, apples and cranberries? Even some mashed potato with Brussels sprouts could be a great addition to your festive meal plan. Remember to make any diet changes gradually. So, starting early in December and slowly increasing is the best way to minimise bloating that can come from big diet changes.




Try some probiotics


NHS Guidelines recommend trying probiotics for one month if you have IBS. The month leading up to Christmas and New Year may be the perfect time to start this. It can allow you to feed the microbiome which lives in your gut and may help solve some of your IBS related problems. Try some tasty kefirs or some delightful kombucha- you can always add a festive twist through the flavour.


Deal with over-eating


As this is the season to eat, drink and be merry, you may find yourself tempted at every corner by mince pies, mulled wine and tasty treats. Indulging in these is perfectly normal, especially when 2020 has been such a difficult year.


But, for many people with IBS, there can be consequences to overindulging which leads to tummy upset.


The most important thing to do is not to feel guilty. You may feel guilt or shame because you have eaten something you know may trigger pain. This can also cause you to feel stressed out. Research has shown that feeling guilty and anxious can make you eat even more.


Instead, self-acceptance is important. Know that you are not perfect and that it is ok to let yourself eat and indulge now and then, especially during Christmas time. Try to remain calm if you have eaten more than you feel you should have. If you get automatic negative thoughts about yourself, it may be useful to use the cognitive restructuring tool in the Zemedy app to help you have alternative thoughts.


And, if you have a flareup, whether that’s related to a particular food or the stress of the holiday season, Zemedy is here for you. Try out our Flare mode -a great tool to get instant relief when you need it most.


Another way to enjoy eating during the holidays is to incorporate an intuitive eating approach. This means following your gut (ironic!) and only eating when you genuinely feel hungry. You can be guided by your body - if you feel hungry, then eat some food. You can eat whatever you are craving, but really enjoy and savour the moment. Experience the taste, the smell and the sensations of the food. When you start to feel full, stop eating and move onto your next task.

Do you have any tips or tricks on keeping your gut happy during the festive period? We would love to hear from you. Wishing you a very gut-friendly Holiday season!

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