Dating can feel like a challenge at the best of times. What if there’s an awkward silence? Is a sequin dress too much? Are our star signs compatible? And we haven’t even mentioned having a gut that won’t play ball. We asked dietitian Imogen Wolsey to share her top tips for negotiating the dating scene with gut issues, which will hopefully boost confidence and help you relax before heading out.
Firstly, you can help yourself get off to a good start by staying mindful of what you’re eating in the days before the main event. High fibre options might not be the safest, and foods containing FODMAPs (a group of carbohydrates that ferment at different rates in the gut) can be particularly symptom triggering for some people. Saying this, be wary not to fall into the trap of thinking no food = no symptoms. This is not the case! Restricting yourself in the lead up to your big night may cause more bloating. Go for easy to digest, well cooked foods that you are familiar with and trust your body to digest.
Indulge in some chill time
Following this, we know that gut symptoms are directly impacted by stress levels so try and chill out as much as possible in the hours before (easier said than done, we know!). Perhaps a walk in the fresh air or a bubble bath? If you’re heading out to a restaurant and choosing meals induces anxiety, then you can feel more prepared by checking the menu in advance… save yourself from the last-minute panic order!
Dress confidently and comfortably
When it comes to outfit choices, there’s no doubt you need to feel fab. Does ‘sexy comfy’ exist? Hell yeah it does. Find something that lets your tummy breathe without making you feel like a grandma, as this will help your digestive system get the blood it needs to work efficiently. Promise it’s far more attractive to eat with confidence wearing a baggy jumper than pick around the plate in a corset.
As for the event itself, well, hopefully none of what you’re reading here will be in your head as whoever you’re with will be devastatingly good looking with totally captivating conversation… but let’s just say you do have a moment to think about your tum… Remember to take your time eating, chew thoroughly to enhance digestive enzyme production, and don’t bloat yourself with too many sugary or fizzy drinks.
If in doubt, own it
And if the worst does occur? Own it. If you’re really struggling then you don’t need to kill yourself trying to hide it. Whoever is sitting opposite you isn’t perfect either! Try to find some humour in the situation and bring it up in a casual way, then accept how you’re feeling and do your best to carry on. Take comfort from the fact that you can always hide at home in your onesie tomorrow, call your bestie and laugh about the whole thing.