The holidays are a time for relaxation, family, friends and FOOD!
This can be a challenge for anyone striving to live a healthy lifestyle and goals can be easily derailed.
With IC, the holiday season can be even more of a challenge because our diets are often very restrictive to promote healing and to manage our waxing and waning symptoms.
In addition, we are most likely not feeling our best, so the stressors of the holiday season can easily become overwhelming.
With a little planning and a lot of determination, you can enjoy this special time of year!
Here are my 7 tips for surviving the holidays with IC:
1. Stay hydrated
A lot of the time when you think you’re hungry, you are actually thirsty.
If you feel an intense urge to eat even though it has not been long since your last meal, or you find yourself snacking endlessly on holiday goodies (even if they are IC safe!), reach for a glass of water or herbal tea.
After you have rehydrated, reassess how you feel and decide if you are actually hungry.
Ginger or peppermint tea are great warming options for the cold weather if they are tolerated!
2. Consume enough healthy fats and protein
Holiday foods can be very carbohydrate-heavy and can have a negative effect on blood sugar regulation and yeast overgrowth.
Be sure to include healthy fats and proteins with your meals to keep you satiated and full for longer periods of time and to avoid overindulging in carbohydrate-rich foods
Avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, olives, ghee, grass fed meats, chicken, nuts and seeds are all great options.
3. Focus on the true spirit of the holiday
Food quickly becomes the focus of many of our holiday traditions.
This holiday season, try to re-focus your attention back to what’s really important – friends, family and giving.
Okay, let’s be honest, receiving can feel pretty darn nice as well!
Take the time to re-connect with friends and family and choose conversation over the appetizer table.
Keep your healing goals in the forefront of your mind and remind yourself of how much progress you’ve made so far.
During the holidays you are more susceptible to emotional eating, often due to stress and family conflict.
If you recognize this is happening, take a few moments to reflect or journal about the root of the problem and come up with a couple of solutions or intentions. This may prevent you from indulging in food or drink that will cause damage.
4. Get enough rest and relaxation time
It’s easy to overextend yourself over the holidays and take on too much.
With parties galore and family gatherings, you need to really listen to your body and decide when to say yes, when to say no and when to call it a night.
While it’s tempting to stay out late, because let’s face it, no one likes to be the first one to leave a party, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and be in bed by 10pm as much as possible.
Trust me, your adrenals will thank you for the deep rest and you will be all the more prepared to handle any unforseen stressors that the holidays may bring!
If you have a daily relaxation or meditation practice, don’t let it fall to the wayside over the holidays. You may need it now more than ever. Put it in your schedule and stick to it.
A simple practice you can use is to always come back to your breath during the day and if you notice it is shallow, consciously take 5 deep breaths. This will help keep you out of fight-or-flight mode and help you cope with stressful family dynamics that may come to the surface over the holidays.
Here are some strategies to help you stay on track and avoid sabotaging your diet:
Don’t arrive hungry
My cousin is known to fast the day leading up to our holiday feast and without a doubt, by the end of the night, he is nearly comatose or sleeping on the couch.
While this approach may work for some people, it could leave you in a position ripe for binging.
I recommend eating your regular meals throughout the day and having a snack before an event, so you are not arriving in a state of starvation. Have something with protein, carbs and fat, such as a fuji apple with almond butter.
Find out the menu ahead of time
Don’t be afraid to call up the host and find out what they will be serving.
If there are not many options that you can eat, make one or two dishes to bring with you.
That way, you won’t end up starving or sitting at the table staring at other people enjoying their meal.That’s the worst!
Don’t stand right next to the appetizer table
Take what you want and then back away…
At your main meal, load up on vegetables
Try to fill half your plate with vegetables and then take smaller portions of the more indulgent, calorie-rich foods.
That way, you won’t be straying too much from your usual alkaline, nutrition-filled, anti-inflammatory meals!
Don’t go back for seconds
Let 20-3o minutes pass and if you are still hungry, select a few small portions of your favorites for seconds.
Digestive issues and IC often go hand-in-hand and overeating will exacberate bloating and gas and increase your “IC belly”.
Also, keep in mind that dessert is on its way, so save a bit of room!
Bring an IC friendly dessert to share
Desserts can be tricky with IC, as many of us avoid gluten, dairy and chocolate.
Bringing an IC friendly dessert with you will ensure that you can have something sweet at the end of the meal.
This way you can avoid feelings of deprivation and show off your baking skills.
I find that people are always curious about the desserts that I bring and it’s an opportunity to show people that you can make something tasty without using refined sugar and other processed ingredients.
If there is any IC-safe fruit on the table, that can also help to satisfy your sweet tooth!
6. Be prepared to put out the fire!
Despite your best efforts, you may end up eating something that exacerbates your symptoms, or puts you into a flare.
Or maybe you choose to indulge in your favorite dish or dessert and through caution to the wind.
Afterall, you are only human and perfection is neither desireable or possible!
I recommend having some natural remedies on hand as a preventative measure and to deal with any aftermath from eating something that is causing a reaction.
Prelief can be helpful when you are eating out and not 100% sure if something is safe for you to eat. You can take it with your meal to buffer the acidity. While I don’t recommend it for long-term use, it is perfect for holiday gatherings where you are not in control of the menu.
Baking soda, aloe vera capsules and marshmallow root tea are some other remedies that may be useful in case you end up in a flare situation over the holidays.
And don’t underestimate the relief that a heating or cooling pad can provide!
7. Drop the guilt!
If you overindulge or eat something you know you shouldn’t have and are paying the consequences, don’t feel guilty.
This will only add fuel to the fire and increase your mental and emotional stress.
So drop the guilt and move on. Know that you’ve done your best and that tomorrow is a new day!