As the end of the year fast approaches, it’s that time to get psyched up for the holidays. For many, the holidays are a time of excitement and joy, they should be, right? For those of us with digestive health issues, it can bring a lot of negative emotions as well from anxiety to uncertainty to fear. I hear you.

As someone who was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in 2007 I’ve been through my fair share of these holiday times with the onset of symptoms that can come after if I’m not prepared. But I’ve learned over the years in my personal experiences as well as all the work I’ve done as a dietitian, the best way to better cope with the holidays.

I want you to take a deep breath…. seriously. Close your eyes. Connect with your body.  Deepen your breath. And take a few deep breaths in and breath out again. It’s going to be ok.

In this article, let’s start with how to survive the holidays, Low FODMAP Style!

 

The Low FODMAP Holiday

 

What is the best way to go through the holidays and ensure you do you best to minimize digestive symptoms of IBS, IBD or other digestive disorders? The best way to reach your  goal of enjoying time with family and friends and experience as little gas, bloating, discomfort, pain, diarrhea and/or constipation related to digestive conditions as possible?

It’s the Low FODMAP diet of course. Avoiding all foods that are high in FODMAPs; foods that are easily fermented in the gut and can triggers symptoms for people with IBS and other conditions, is going to help you minimize symptoms. If you’re not familiar with the Low FODMAP diet or you want to get a refresher, read the article What is the Low FODMAP diet? and download the Monash University App for an up-to-date list of foods.

Let’s make your holiday a Low FODMAP holiday in the best way possible. In order to do this, we need to do a couple things…

 

Eat Well, Low FODMAP, Each Day

 

Each day needs to be the best eating day you can have, especially if you are going to be eating away from the home and think FODMAP foods can slip into the mix. It may be ok for your body to have a small amount of FODMAPs when eating away from home, but it’s going to be best to limit FODMAPs as much as possible.

FODMAP foods can add up through the day, even in small amounts. So make sure that if you’re going to stray away from the diet you do your best through the day to eat foods low in FODMAPs. What does this mean?

Stick to Low FODMAP Breakfast

 

Start your day with “safe” foods that keep you healthy and full of energy.

Key Low FODMAP Breakfast Foods Include:

  • Eggs
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Plain turkey or breakfast sausages (no onions or garlic)
  • Toast with Low FODMAP bread like spelt, sourdough or gluten-free varieties
  • Oatmeal
  • Fried of baked potatoes with salt, pepper and herbs
  • Sliced tomatoes, cucumber
  • Sliced cheese like cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella
  • Lactose-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Low FODMAP fruit like blueberries, strawberries or banana

Here’s a yummy recipe for eggs cooked in salsa that I developed for FODY Foods for the holiday season, Salsa Baked Eggs. Give it a try for something deliciously different!

Low FODMAP Dietitian Recommendation

Breakfast can easily become a very high fibre meal. Too much fibre can actually be harmful for those of us with IBS and digestive health issues.With all the high fibre cereals available and encouraged by food brands and health professionals, it can be tricky to know what to do. If you suffer from digestive health issues you need to spread that fibre through the day. Loading up on hemp hearts and Chia seeds all at one meal can potentially cause discomfort and pain that can last through the day. Instead stick to 6-8 grams of fibre at each meal and snack throughout the day.

 

Stick to a Low FODMAP Lunch

Fuel your body with foods that won’t trigger symptoms mid-day and keep your energy going by including carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables.

Key Low FODMAP Lunch Foods Include:

  • Sliced turkey breast
  • Roasted chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Baked smokey tempeh
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • Low FODMAP bread like spelt, sourdough or gluten-free varieties
  • Salad with baby spinach, arugula, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber and shredded carrots
  • Sliced cheese like cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella

Here is another delicious recipe that I created using FODY Food ingredients for the holidays, Barbecue Mini Meatloaves! There are perfect for lunch with a side salad and can be wrapped up and brought with you in a cooler wherever you go, whether it’s work or a friends house for lunch.

Low FODMAP Dietitian Recommendation

I usually recommend baby greens as they can be easier to digest than a really robust salad green like full romain, kale or iceberg. Raw vegetables can be quite a lot of trouble to digest, so keep you serving to 1 cup or less at a meal.

Stick to Low FODMAP Snacks

Ensure you’re not starving when it comes to eating away from  home by curbing cravings and including good-for-your-gut snacks between meals.

Key Low FODMAP Snack Ideas Include:

  • 1/2 cup lactose-free Greek yogurt & 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 boiled egg and 1/2 Low FODMAP English Muffin
  • 1/2 tuna sandwich on Low FODMAP bread
  • Sliced cheddar cheese and Low FODMAP crackers topped with a little salsa
  • Low FODMAP seed and nut bar (several on available online now!)

Low FODMAP Dietitian Recommendation

Snacks throughout the day can be a great opportunity to include the several servings of fruit you need throughout the day. However, even fruit low in FODMAPs must be consumed in moderation. As all fruit contains fructose, a large serving of fruit may trigger symptoms. If you’re not sure how much fruit is too much yet, start with just 1/2 cup serving and then when you enter the re-introdcuction stage of the diet (usually within a few months of starting FODMAP elimination), you can increase your fruit consumption and monitor symptoms as you go.

 

Stick to a Low FODMAP Dinner

Make it count at dinner time by include as many Low FODMAP dishes as possible.

Key Low FODMAP Dinner Foods Include:

  • Roasted chicken or turkey
  • Roast beef
  • Steak
  • Casseroles with ground beef, pork or chicken
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Eggs
  • Pan-fried fish like cod, halibut or salmon
  • Sautéed tempeh
  • Baked tofu
  • 1/2 cup lentils or 1/4 cup chickpeas in soups and stews
  • Roasted Low FODMAP vegetables like carrots, rutabaga, eggplant, zucchini, peppers
  • Pan-fried Low FODMAP vegetables like green beans, kale, chard
  • Baked potatoes
  • Low FODMAP bread like spelt, sourdough or gluten-free varieties
  • Salad with baby spinach, arugula, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber and shredded carrots

Recently I had the opportunity to connect with Larah Low FODMAP on her podcast for December. I got to share three delicious recipes for the holiday season and I want to share them here with you too! Low FODMAP, delicious and perfect for the holidays or anytime!

Here is the No-Fuss Turkey Bolognese, Wild Rice, Kale and Cranberry Stuffing and Maple Pumpkin Cookies I shared on the show. These are simple, easy recipes you can include at your holiday feast!

Low FODMAP Dietitian Recommendation

Whether you’re entertaining at home or visiting friends, it’s a good idea to know what’s in your food. Bring a dish or two with you to contribute to your hosts meal and let them know about some of your food restrictions if you’re comfortable. For more support with holiday get-togethers, consider joining the CLAIRITY Program.

Make Time for You

I know it can really feel like a lot is going on, there are so many things to do, and no matter how hard you try, you’re just really really busy. One of the biggest things you can do to be well and manage digestive symptoms during the holidays is to make time for you. That’s right. YOU.

We so often can put ourselves last in the balance of life. Perhaps you are taking care of family, children and partner or parents. Perhaps you have many friends that count on you for events, a drive, or support. Sometimes what can seem like being a thoughtful person, can actually drive us to be so self-sacrificing it impacts our health, our mind and our digestive system.

I know first hand what this is like being someone who loves to give so much of myself to others,  but it’s time to take control of this part of our lives too. It’s time to say no.

Each and every invitation you get this holiday season, I encourage you to reflect on and ask yourself if it’s something you want to do. Some social engagements with close friends and family will be so lovey and necessary. These are the people who won’t mind if you bring your own dishes to contribute or will honour your food restrictions. While other events may make you feel uncomfortable. Pick and choose your events, you don’t need to attend them all. Sit in quiet with these events and invitations and don’t let that self-talk say “well I HAVE to go”. You don’t. What you have to do… is take care of you!

This may mean saying no to a few friends or family events. It may also mean substituting all the busy-ness with some self-care activities. This could include any of my favourite things to do to make time for me:

  • Taking a walk or hike
  • Participating in a gentle or restorative yoga class
  • Going for a swim
  • Sitting alone in the quiet
  • Reading a good book
  • Relaxing by a fire, gazing at it’s light and listening to it crackle
  • Spending time in the kitchen, baking or stirring (not rushing to get dinner on the table)

What are your favourite ways to love yourself and make time for you? I’d love to know, so please share with me in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to breath….

And make sure you at least take some moments throughout the day to connect with your breath and just breath. Fill your lungs and your body with oxygen and let it go. Let go of the stress and anxiety with each exhale.

 

Wishing you much wellness & love,

Stephanie

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