People sitting on the table having a turkey dinner

Low FODMAP survival guide for the holidays

If you eat low FODMAP, the holidays can feel like a difficult time. Maybe you don’t want to bother other people with your “difficult diet”.

Or maybe you are afraid of getting more symptoms in this period when you often eat differently than usual. 

In this blog, I would like to share my tips & tricks with you to have as few complaints as possible during the holidays. 

Because even if you have IBS or other intolerances, you have the right to enjoy the holidays without too many complaints!

Eating with others

One thing that can cause stress during the holidays is the fear of eating something that will give you symptoms because there are no low FODMAP options for you. 

But you can try to avoid that as much as possible with the following tips: 

1. Plan

Try to plan a little ahead during the holidays: what are you going to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas? 

Are you going to eat with someone who prepares the entire dinner? Are you doing a potluck dinner where everybody brings a dish? 

Then talk with the people who will be cooking well in advance and explain the diet you are following to them. 

I have written a handy blog with tips to explain the low FODMAP diet to people who are not yet familiar with it. And what you can do if somebody is cooking for you. 

A dinner on the table with a turkey in the middle

2. Offer help

The FODMAP diet can feel super overwhelming and difficult, we have all experienced that ourselves.

For people who suddenly have to take the FODMAP diet into account and are not yet familiar with it, it can be even more difficult to cook low FODMAP.

Things that are natural to you, such as having to watch carefully which stock cubes you use when making soup, are probably not for someone who never looks at the ingredients of products.

I have experienced that it is very nice if you help the host a little with cooking low FODMAP.

For example, I often offer to make 1 of 2 dishes myself. In addition, I check in with the people cooking what they are planning to cook and give ideas on how to make the dish low FODMAP. 

I give tips on which low FODMAP products to use or I look up a low FODMAP recipe for the dish so they can follow.

In my experience, people will feel more comfortable cooking for you when you help a little and it also decreases the chance that something goes wrong with cooking. 

A family sitting at the table having dinner

3. Bring some snacks

Are you afraid that at certain moments, there will be nothing that you can eat? Then you can always throw some snacks in your bag.

Bring some simple safe snacks with you that you know you can eat. Or: if you want to do something extra, you can also make a low FODMAP snack platter for everybody to enjoy. 

Then you’ll be sure that you have something to eat and others can enjoy it too.

Intoleran supplements, five different boxes

4. Use FODMAP supplements

When I eat somewhere else, I usually take my Intoleran supplements with me. 

Intoleran has supplements that can help to better tolerate the FODMAP groups lactose, fructose, galactans and fructans.

These supplements can make things a lot easier. For example, I always tell friends and family that they don’t have to take my lactose intolerance into account, because I can take a supplement for lactose. 

That already makes it easier for them, because they don’t have to buy lactose-free products for me. 

In addition, I like to have the supplements with me if I am not 100% sure whether a dish is safe or not. Then I take, for example, the quatrase forte supplement.

This is a combination supplement for lactose, fructose, galactans and fructans. If there accidentally is a little onion or lactose in a dish, then I know that this helps me not to get any complaints.

A can of Intoleran supplements

I personally wouldn’t eat a dish that I know is not low FODMAP at all in combination with the supplements. Simply because I know that I will get symptoms then. I mainly them it as an extra precaution to prevent complaints.

If you’ve never used these supplements before, I recommend testing them before the holidays. Then you can determine what dosage you need. You can also order a sample.

You can read more about how these supplements work in the blogs I’ve written about them earlier: 

A table set with glasses and plates

The meals

During the holidays you often eat differently than usual and also more than usual. What can you do to get as few symptoms as possible? 

1. Make sure you also eat nutritious foods

Do you know that you have a large Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in the evening? Then try to have breakfast and lunch like you usually do and eat something nutritious. 

A healthy low FODMAP breakfast with plenty of fiber. Some fruit for breakfast and a portion of vegetables for lunch.

Choose a meal that you know your belly will respond well to. This way you lay a healthy foundation for the evening and do not go into dinner with symptoms already. 

2. Don’t skip meals

Try to stick to your routines even during the holidays. Do not skip meals to be able to eat more at dinner, for example.

People at Christmas dinner with Christmas lights

3. Be mindful of FODMAP stacking

Try to pay attention to stacking during a large dinner or brunch. Even if the dishes are low FODMAP separately, combining several dishes can lead to the stacking of FODMAPs. Click on the link to read more about this.

Products such as potatoes, plain meat, and fish do not contain FODMAPs and you can safely take a little more of that. But be careful with combinations of different types of vegetables, fruit, and sauces.

In the Monash app, you can check which FODMAP groups are found in different foods. 

4. Watch what you drink

Alcohol is irritating to your gut and can make your symptoms worse if you drink it in larger amounts. The same can apply to, for example, coffee or carbonated drinks.

Be careful with mixed drinks, such as cocktails. Often these contain types of alcohol or juices that are not low FODMAP. In the Monash app, you can see which types of alcohol are allowed.

You know best how you react to alcohol, coffee, or carbonated drinks. Keep this in mind when choosing your drink. For example, choose 1 very nice glass of wine and then switch to something else.

5. Chew well and eat slowly

While eating, try to make sure that you chew your food enough and do not eat too quickly. That can also cause complaints.

Chew your food until it has the consistency of applesauce and then swallow it.

A family sitting at the table for Christmas dinner

General tips for the holidays

The holiday season can be a busy time, which is also experienced as stressful by some people. In general, what can you do to control your symptoms during this period?

1. Keep moving

Gentle exercise, such as light exercise or walking, can be good for your IBS complaints. Also after a larger meal, it can be very nice to exercise a bit.

Try to get the family to go for a nice walk after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Or do some yoga stretches together 😉

2. Do meditation or breathing exercises

It always helps me a lot to take a few minutes in the morning for meditation or breathing exercises during busy periods. 

This gives my body and head some rest and ensures that I experience less stress during the day. Maybe meditation or breathing exercises can be helpful for you if you find the holiday period a stressful time. 

3. Go to the toilet if you have to

One last but very important tip: don’t sit too long with a bloated stomach or urge to go to the bathroom. That can make your symptoms worse.

Go to the toilet if you have to. Even if that is several times in a short period of time.

It may help to explain to your family that you may need to go to the toilet more often because of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Or maybe they already know that. Then you feel less uncomfortable if you go to the toilet a bit more often.

Hopefully, these tips will help you get through the holidays without too many complaints. And you can enjoy the holiday time with lovely people around you and good food.

I wish you very happy holidays!

A Christmas table
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