It’s the season of love and I’m sure lots of you have big plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special someone. Whether you have a first date, or a night out with your long time significant other, who doesn’t want to look and feel great? No matter what you wear or how much time you spend getting ready, if you’ve got an upset stomach, gas, or bloating, it’s certainly difficult to feel attractive and excited for your evening. So this week, the team and I really wanted to share some advice on getting you feeling wonderful and sexy for your Valentine!
How to Plan and Enjoy a Night Out with IBS
1. Eat Before You Go Out
Did you know that food can affect your body for up to 48 hours after you eat it? This is a big question my clients always ask about. So what you eat on your date isn’t the only thing that matters to your digestive symptoms. Actually the food you eat the day before and day of your night out is just as important! This means it’s best to make your meals leading up to that special night out digestive friendly by avoiding foods that may l trigger symptoms. You don’t want something you ate last night to haunt you during your special night out.
2. Plan Ahead (& Call Ahead!)
Be involved in the decision on where you and your date are going to eat. This will allow you the ability to contact a few places to find one that offers options that will work for you or are happy to make adjustments to dishes that will meet your needs. Many restaurants have their menus posted online so that you can look beforehand and find options that won’t cause you digestive distress.
By deciding what you’re going to order ahead of time, you won’t be as tempted to order something that isn’t going to be good for your body – like those crunchy, cheesy deep friend jalapeno poppers (mmmmmmm…). If the menu isn’t posted online, or the alternative options aren’t entirely clear, all it takes is a simple phone call to the restaurant – most are happy to help.
3. Avoid Temptation and Order Digestive Friendly
A little bit of will power will go a long way in preventing digestive distress. Making a bad choice when you order can leave you feeling sick for the rest of the night. One thing I’ve learned as a digestive health dietitian is that digestive distress is very individualized; everyone’s body is different. Some foods may irritate you, but not the next person. You know your body best – so avoid the foods that are triggers for you, whether that is dairy, wheat, eggs, onions, garlic, broccoli, etc.
There are a triggers that cause digestive distress in most people that might be best for you to avoid, especially on a nice night out with your honey.
- Gut Stimulants: Gut stimulants encourage the movement of food quickly through the digestive
system. Gut stimulants include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, and some people are more sensitive to them than others. I know that alcohol can be tricky to avoid when eating out. If you are someone who is sensitive to alcohol it is best to choose a non-alcoholic beverage like 100% cranberry juice or minimize alcohol. If you would really like to share in a round of drinks, pick an alcoholic beverage that is digestive friendly. To find out which ones are best, check out our post Alcohol that Doesn’t Make your Belly Ache
- Beat that Belly Bloat: Nothing ruins a date night like stomach gas. Oh dear… we’ve all been there!
Your little black dress won’t look nearly as cute when you feel as bloated as a balloon. And lets be honest, a toot is never cute! Chewing gum, drinking from a straw and carbonated beverages all increase the amount of air in your stomach. There are also several foods that can increase gas production in your gut:
- Order Low FODMAP: The low FODMAP diet is the strategy I use in my practice to help clients suffering from IBS. This diet avoids poorly absorbed carbohydrates. If you are someone who suffers from IBS ordering foods that are low FODMAP will help you prevent digestive distress.
4. Don’t Let Your Nerves Get the Best of You
The anticipation of a blind date or one with that special person can really get your heart pumping and nerves buzzing. Stress and anxiety can have a HUGE effect on your digestive system.
When we get stressed, our body releases a series of hormones and we go into what’s known as a “fight or flight” response. These hormones create a response that directs blood flow away from our digestive system and towards the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles. When we are going through a stressful experience, either emotionally or physically, our bodies put less energy into digestion, which leads to a variety of symptoms such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
To learn more about the effects of stress on the digestive system and for strategies to help with relaxation and management of anxiety check out our article Don’t Stress-Digest.
5. Quick Fixes
Okay, so you messed up and ate something you shouldn’t have, now what?! When I’m away from home or eating out and I have a digestive distress emergency, my quick fix is always a nice digestive blend of tea. Some times I bring this from home, but if I don’t have it on me, I will ask for one bag of peppermint tea and one bag of chamomile in a large mug of hot water. This combination is a great stomach soother when you’re in a bind. To learn more about how tea can help sooth your stomach check out our blog Tea Time for Your Tummy.
Don’t let digestive distress get in the way of enjoying a night out with your special someone or a group of good friends. Happy Valentines Day
Much love and good eating,
Stephanie and The Team