Following a low FODMAP diet over Christmas can be tricky, but a little forward thinking can help to minimise any symptom flares. We asked dietitian Laura Tilt (@nutritilty) for her top tips for the festive season ahead.
Just like when starting out on the FODMAP diet, planning ahead is your biggest ally, and will help you enjoy meals with your family without worrying about symptoms.
If you can, take some time to sit down and plan out your Christmas Day menu – and the meals you’ll eat for the couple of days either side. From there you can see which foods or ingredients you might need to swap in. For example, turkey (and all other plain meat) is FODMAP friendly, but you might need to switch up your usual veggies and make a FODMAP friendly stuffing and sauce. Smoked salmon and prawns are a brilliant FODMAP friendly starter, when accompanied with a FODMAP friendly toast and a marie-rose sauce (lemon, light mayo, paprika and ketchup).
See my “festive swap’ guide below for ideas, or check some FODMAP friendly cookbooks or recipes online. Bay’s kitchen has a range of FODMAP friendly gravies, which are ideal for Christmas dinner.
Make sure you also have FODMAP friendly snacks and treats on hand so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out. FODMAP friendly options include peanuts, hard cheeses, olives, rice crackers, smoked salmon, clementines, fresh berries and dark chocolate (30g serving size).
See my “festive swap” guide below for ideas, or check out some FODMAP friendly cookbooks or recipes online. Bay’s Kitchen has also launched a brand new range of FODMAP friendly gravies, which are ideal for Christmas Dinner.
Pack FODMAP Friendly Options
If you’re planning a trip away, or visiting friends or family for Christmas, have a chat with them beforehand and make sure there are some FODMAP friendly options for you to eat.
If they’re unsure about which meals are FODMAP friendly, give them some ideas – or consider taking a few items with you which you can team up with a main dish like fish or meat and vegetables. Taking a FODMAP friendly bread, side dish or pudding can be really helpful.
You could also freeze a couple of FODMAP friendly meals in the run-up to Christmas so you have something on hand, or stock up on a couple of Bay’s Kitchen sauces – try teaming your leftover turkey with a Bay’s kitchen sauce and some rice for a quick and delicious dinner.
Be Mindful With Alcohol
About one third of people with IBS report that alcohol makes their symptoms worse, and when combined with rich foods at Christmas, it can upset IBS-sensitive tummies.
Symptoms are more likely when consuming alcohol on an empty stomach or in large quantities (several drinks in one sitting).
The best approach is to have smaller measures (a small glass of wine or a single rather than a double measure of spirits), stick to one or two drinks per sitting, and try to drink alcohol alongside food, as this will lessen the effects.
Spread Out The FODMAPs
Remember that the more FODMAPs you have in one meal, the more likely you are to experience symptoms, so if you want to enjoy a bit more FODMAP rich food than normal, try to spread it out over the day so that there are not too many FODMAPs in one meal.
Check the Monash FODMAP app for a guide to portion sizes for higher FODMAP foods – having a smaller portion or a few mouthfuls of a favourite food rather than a full-sized portion can keep the FODMAP content lower.
Take A Deep Breath
Although Christmas is a joyful time, it can also be stressful. Anxiety and worry can be as much of a symptom trigger as food, so try not to overcommit or pressure yourself to make everything perfect during the festive season.
Get plenty of sleep, and build in time to relax. If you notice yourself feeling anxious or stressed, take a few deep belly breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth – this can help to switch your nervous system from fight or flight to rest and digest. You could also try this one minute guided breathing exercise from Headspace.
Even with forward planning, flare-ups can happen. If this happens, try not to worry and remember it will pass. Have a ‘flare-up’ care pack on hand which you can take with you if you’re staying with a friend or family – a hot water bottle, comfortable loose clothes, medications (if you use them), peppermint tea and a book, headphones and a blanket can make things more comfortable. Try to rest and give yourself a couple of days to ease back into your routine.
Instead of scrambled eggs on toast...
Try eggs on spelt sourdough with spinach.
Instead of French onion soup...
Instead of Brussel sprouts...
Try green beans.
Instead of cauliflower cheese...
Try maple glazed carrots and parsnips.
Instead of pastry canapes...
Try smoked salmon & cream cheese (40g per serving) on gluten-free blinis.
Instead of sage & onion stuffing...
Try making home-made stuffing with sausage meat, gluten-free breadcrumbs and herbs.
Instead of regular gravy...
Instead of Christmas cake...
Try Monash low FODMAP Christmas cake with brandy custard.
Instead of Christmas pudding...
Try Meringue with a little cream and strawberries.
Instead of turkey curry...
Try turkey tikka masala made with Bay’s Kitchen Tikka Masala sauce.
Instead of regular mince pies...
Try making Emma Hatcher’s Low FODMAP mince pies.
We really hope you have a wonderful Christmas and very Happy New Year! If you enjoyed this article, then check out our delicious low FODMAP recipe suggestions for Christmas leftovers, as well as these top tips for dealing with a post-Christmas IBS flare-up.
Written by Registered Dietitian Laura Tilt @nutritilty, on behalf of Bay’s Kitchen.
Copyright Bay’s Kitchen. Please do not reprint without permission.
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