Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

How to survive Christmas with a dodgy tummy

If you’ve got a bit of a funny tummy, the festive period with its vast array of different foods, can be a less than merry time. 

It can be even worse if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas and cramps.

Most people with IBS know to stay well away from certain trigger foods that may affect them such as onions, cheese or wheat bread. However, even if you stay away from ‘danger foods’ there are still other things you could consume which could worsen your symptoms – such as fizzy drinks or high fat offerings.

These things can also trigger unpleasant symptoms in people that don’t suffer from IBS as such, but are still sensitive to over-indulging.

“We all tend to indulge during the holidays, but overeating can really tax your gut,” says dietitian Eloise Turner from healthy snack food company Fodbods. “It’s good for everyone to snack sensibly in between meals to keep hunger at bay.” 

Fodbods recently released their Buddies protein bars, aimed at kids, and Nibbles bite-sized snacks just in time for the party season.

“Roughly one in five Australians suffer symptoms of IBS, including children who are often more difficult to diagnose and treat,” says Eloise. “So, it’s an idea to look for snacks that are easy to digest. All Fodbods products are made from ingredients such as tigernut flour, buckwheat kernels and organic coconut which are really easy on your insides.

“If you approach things sensibly, put thought into what you’re consuming and go easy, it’s entirely possible to manage your gut over festive period.”

Follow these tips so you can eat, drink and be merry.

1 – Go easy on the fizz

Sorry to say, but carbonated drinks such as champagne, prosecco, beer and soft drinks introduce gas straight into the stomach which isn’t the greatest if you’ve already got a temperamental tummy. Some of the gas can be released by burping, however remaining gas can become trapped in your digestive tract, either causing pain or unfortunately being eventually released by passing wind.

Instead: Try water, non-caffeinated drinks and non-carbonated beverages – and stick to spirits or still wine rather than sparkling.

2 – Don’t go crazy with fatty foods

Many people with IBS are sensitive to dietary fat intake and find that it can worsen their IBS symptoms. Fat can impact gut motor activity and slow down digestion so too much of it can literally be a pain resulting in bloating, diarrhoea, cramps and gas. Not exactly what you want to hear when you’re looking at a plate of roast potatoes and pork crackling!

Instead: Eat the lean parts of the roast and load your plate with lots of fresh vegies and salads.

3 – Pace yourself at the table

When you’ve already got a sensitive gut it’s important not to overload it. Eating too much over one sitting or eating too much all at once to the point of bursting, is a big no no. Studies show that there is a direct link between binge eating and gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Instead: Eat slowly, don’t overload your plate and take your time to talk to people whilst eating. Also pay attention to your hunger cues. Listen to your stomach, and when you’re no longer hungry – stop!

4 – Be prepared for a ‘silent night’

There’s nothing worse than coming down with a gut ache on a public holiday then madly scrolling through your phone to see what pharmacies are open because you don’t have any meds at hand. 

Instead: Stock up well in advance on pain medication, anti-cramping meds, anti-nausea drugs and digestive enzymes if you take them.

5 – Keep calm and jolly and carry on

For many people the festive period can cause just as much stress as frivolity. Try to remain calm as psychological stresses have a significant impact on intestinal sensitivity and how your intestines function. 

Instead: Manage your expectations when it comes to friends and family, don’t take on more than you can handle, control your breathing and do some exercise in the lead up to the biggest days. And another thing – have fun!