How to survive Christmas with a sensitive gut

We all know the festive season is traditionally a food and drink extravaganza. With party food all around and alcohol flowing freely, you’ll need to plan ahead to look after your sensitive gut. We asked nutritionist, Sarah West for her tips on looking after your guts during this period.

Surviving Christmas with minimal suffering is perfectly achievable with a few adjustments and a bit of planning ahead

  • Make a contribution

Many of you dread going out for meals, as it can feel impossible to avoid known triggers. If you’re invited to a friend or family member’s house for a Christmas meal this year, ask if you can bring one of your own dishes to help out. This ensures there will always be something on the table that you know you can tolerate, so you can load up your plate without stress or fear.

  • Don’t overdo it

The average Christmas dinner contains around 70% of an adult’s overall daily calorie intake. While it might be traditional to pile your plate with a mountain of food, your gut won’t thank you for it. Breaking down your daily food intake into several smaller meals (rather than one big blow-out) makes far lighter work for your digestive system – resulting in significantly less digestive discomfort.

  • Trim the fat

High fat foods are a common trigger for sensitive gut. Before you cook your turkey, prick the skin to allow the fat to drain out then cook it on an upturned ovenproof plate so it’s not sitting in the fat. Serve with lots of steamed vegetables and be sure to remove the skin before you eat it.

  • Drink wisely

If you’re prone to bloating and gas, steer clear of fizz such as champagne, prosecco and carbonated mixers, which can leave you feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. Instead, stick to soft drinks or alternate gentler drinks with non-alcoholic alternatives.

  • De-stress

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS, and Christmas is commonly a hectic and stressful time. Acknowledging this – and taking appropriate steps to manage stress – can be a real turning point. Make an effort to take the pressure off this Christmas and factor in some proper time to relax.

  • Keep active

Your digestive system is much more efficient when you keep active, so slumping in front of the television won’t do your guts any favours. A brisk walk after lunch can speed up a sluggish digestion and help relieve stress to boot. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise will help.

Here’s to a happy, healthy Christmas. 

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