What Causes Holiday Bloating?

IBS Bloating Relief


What's causing holiday bloating and how to beat it!

Relief Report 020: What's causing holiday bloating and how to beat it!

Posted by Stephanie Clairmont, RD on Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Ahh the Holiday Season! We’ve reached that time of year where those of us with IBS and other digestive health struggles can get a little extra worried about leaving the house, going out to Holiday gatherings, and hitting the busy malls to get our shopping done. All that extra worry and the busy-ness of the season definitely doesn’t help with stress either. And we know stress can make our symptoms worse too! Geez, seems like we just can’t catch a break.

But let’s get real. It’s the Holidays and I want you to enjoy a glass of wine, a Christmas cookie, a cocktail or a candy cane and enjoy it! Without feeling so sick you’re stuck in the bathroom for the rest of the evening. That just won’t do.


IBS Bloating Relief

While you may not be able to avoid your symptoms altogether while indulging just a little over the Holidays, even if you can minimize your symptoms and keep them down to a 5 out of 10 instead of that dreaded 10 out of 10 that leaves you locked up in the bathroom, I would consider that a win, my friend. Remember, food isn’t the enemy. I don’t want you to fear food and be on a strict diet where you eliminate food after food. The good news is that it doesn’t have to come to this for you to effectively manage your symptoms. Not during the Holidays, or ever 😉


IBS Bloating Triggers

Bloating is a common complaint over the Holidays. In this post I’m going to share with you 5 reasons why you might struggle with bloating over the Holidays, and how you can find relief!

1. Too much food at one time. With all those Holiday gatherings comes lots and lots of food! These also tend to be social events where we are snacking on hors d’oeuvres and cookie trays, which make it easy to lose track of how much you’re eating. Eating too much over a short period of time is the number one reason people struggle with bloating more over the Holidays than any other time of year.

2. Too many easily fermented foods. What are easily fermented foods, you ask? Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is one example. Dairy is another example, and one that can quickly add up as it can be hidden in many things, from the mashed potatoes all the way to your tea and coffee. Finally, sweeteners and sugar alcohols can also be a real problem. Try to stay away from any artificially sweetened Holiday candies and gums, if you can.

3. Too many sulphurous veggies. Onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are everywhere, especially over the Holidays. All these foods are good for your health and provide lots of nutrients we all need more of, but try to take it easy on the sulphurous veggies in particular, as they’re not doing you any favours in the bloating department.

Christmas cookies

4. Too much wheat and dairy. These are common culprits behind Holiday bloat. We already mentioned dairy as an easily fermentable food, but too much wheat can also be a problem. As the temperature drops, we tend to crave more carb-y, creamy dishes, and there is usually no shortage of these options over the Holidays.

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If your bloating isn’t just limited to the Holiday season, you might have IBS. Regular bloating, discomfort, and other struggles with your bowel movements don’t have to be a part of your normal everyday life, my friend.


How to Beat the Holiday Bloat

So now that we know a couple of the most common reasons why we might struggle with bloating a little more often during the Holidays, how do we minimize it? No one likes feeling like they’re going to bust out of their pants half way through Christmas dinner!

1. Don’t starve yourself and “save up” for your Holiday parties. Eat regularly throughout the day, and focus on trigger-free foods. It might also help to do a little exercise in reframe indulgence. Sometimes, part of the fun and appeal of the Holidays is the act of overdoing it on treats. But maybe we need to re-think this? We can still enjoy a little of our favourite treats, but tuning in with our satisfaction factor can help us avoid going overboard. You know how good that first bite of your favourite treat tastes? Every few bites, check in with yourself. When those bites stop tasting quite as good as that first bite, maybe it’s time to stop? You might be surprised how little of something you need to get all the satisfaction, but far fewer symptoms.

2. Think you’re making the good-for-your-gut choice by reaching for the fruit tray instead of the baked brie? You might be wrong! Fruit is so yummy and health with so many important nutrients, but be careful not to overdo it. A half cup at a time is more than enough 😉 When it comes to dairy, be mindful of all the potential sources of dairy you might be consuming and try to limit your intake. Use dairy-free options and milk alternatives where possible to save up for those foods where real-deal-dairy may be unavoidable. Looking for a tic tac or piece of gum to freshen your breath after that Holiday meal? Reach for some peppermint tea instead to avoid those dreaded sugar alcohols.

Brussels sprouts

3. It’s pretty hard to avoid onions and garlic, but to reduce your intake of sulphurous veggies, maybe instead of reaching for the broccoli or Brussels sprouts, stick to easy to digest veggies when they are available, like carrots or zucchini!

4. To minimize wheat, be strategic about what you put on your plate. This might involve a little planning ahead, and checking in with the host to see if they will let you in on the entire menu before appetizers are even served. If you know there will be dinner rolls, stuffing, and pastries for dessert, maybe pick one (obviously your favourite one) and don’t go for all three.

5. Not sure if you have IBS? You can read up on what IBS is and the diagnostic criteria if you’re looking for a little more info in this post. If you think you have IBS, it’s worth talking to your doctor first. If it turns out that this is what you’re dealing with, I would love to work with you in my digestive health coaching program called CLAIRITY. This is where I help people with all sorts of digestive health issues get crystal clear on what their individual food triggers are, and how to get closer to living symptom-free. There is hope for you, my friend. I’ve been through it and come out on the other side, I know you can too!


Wishing you much love & wellness,



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