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woman with wine by fire

Sometimes, I Really Miss Wine

It’s Christmas. Well-almost. In fact, alcohol consumption tends to be highest in the weeks leading up to it than the day itself. Work party? Family reunion? Friends you haven’t seen in years?

Nothing seems to say Christmas like a glass of fizz (or three).

When I was first diagnosed, I attempted to research IBD and alcohol and let me tell you, there’s not much out there beyond ‘everything in moderation.’ It’s frustrating- what is ‘moderation’ anyway? How does alcohol truly affect my body? Is a glass of wine better than a shot of vodka? Is that churning stomach I feel the next morning inflammation, my disease or just a hangover like everybody else on the planet experiences?

So at first, it seemed simple to just avoid it all together. After all, I’d certainly experienced all sorts of horrible symptoms after drinking too much pre-diagnosis, surely now I had a chronic disease, I’d be making it worse for myself?

However, as years went on, I began to realise something; yes I undeniably had a chronic illness but I also had a life. And, I missed drinking occasionally. Not binge drinking and tequila shots you understand, I’m now 32 and that just wasn’t my scene. But I did miss the odd glass of wine in front of the fire on a cozy Friday evening or a glass of prosecco when celebrating an occasion.

So, I began to experiment…

And that’s what I’ve kept doing with no real certainty in the answers I’ve found. Given IBD is so personal, my answers may very well be different to yours but I thought I’d share what I did discover nevertheless.

I’ve learnt that beer is an absolute no-go for me:

No surprise really as I avoid gluten as I personally feel it makes things worse. I’ve also learnt than prosecco seems to be ok as long as it’s no more than a glass or two and when it comes to spirits, I tend to do much better with clearer ones (like gin) than I do with darker ones (like whisky).  It’s thought that dark liquids have a higher concentration of congeners; a chemical substance that results in hangover symptoms-whether that extends to my digestion though, I’m not entirely sure.

Wine is a bit more of a mixed bag

Sometimes I can drink a glass with no issues and other times I’m sure to pay for it. I’ve recently been reading about organic and low sulphite wine (suphites are found in lots of preserved food and drink and some think they can sometimes irritate our guts) and it’s something I am thinking of trying over the festive period.

However, what I’ve also noticed is what I do before and after alcohol is almost just as important as the quantity and quality. A substantial healthy meal with a cup of bone broth (my go-to for stomach distress) and plenty of water before and afterwards means I can ‘get away with it’ but if a glass or two of wine leads me to the eat late and rush around the next day, I’m far more likely to feel the impact. If I am planning to drink, I’ll always make sure my next day is alcohol-free, with plenty of easy to digest meals, bone broth and rest.

I’ve had IBD for five years now and I’m slowly learning that I need to adapt and work with my body each day rather than oppose blanket rules. So if you’re reading this article, I’d encourage you to work with your body too and slowly experiment to see what (if any) you can tolerate. Of course, chronic illness or not, alcohol daily is not great for any of us. But it’s important that we also try to live our lives and not beat ourselves up about our decisions and indulging occasionally (I mean, I’ve already given up cheese for god’s sake!!)

Of course, I should add as a final note, working with yourself is great but working with your doctor is just as important. With some of the medications we take, we must make sure no alcohol passes our lips at all. And, if we are in a flare, than any kind of alcohol is likely to make it worse.

I’d love to hear your experiences with IBD and drinking.

Have you managed to find a solution that works for you or have you just given it up altogether? Is it just me who finds some types of alcohol can impact me much more than others? And finally, does anyone else just really miss wine? Do let me know below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    9 months ago

    I find that vodka works well for me when I want to drink. I also do well with dark wine, specifically a Malbec. I obviously can’t drink too much, as that would aggravate my system, but I definitely partake in drinking when I’m out being social. It’s nice to feel normal.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • dwensley10
    1 year ago

    Pre diagnosis alcohol always gave me awful bowel movements, but now I find (some worse than others) that alcohol gives me pain, i have CD in my small bowel so lower right of my tummy, most of the time i am pain free but 2 days after i drink exactly every time, it feels bruised and tender, this lasts a few days and then disappears. Does this sound similar to anyone at all?! Thanks! X

  • amdom21
    2 years ago

    I was diagnosed in 1970. As a young woman of drinking age, my Doc ( who also had Crohn’s) suggested that if I choose to drink then plain scotch n water is easiest on my gut. When I’m having severe pain, I take a shot of scotch n it works instantly to give me relief. Of course, I’m very careful to not be driving n to be responsible in my activities like not operating heavy equipment.

  • rick
    2 years ago

    Very helpful article Jenna. I think I’ve survived a really ‘good’ Christmas drink – avoiding the usual stresses of life (by being on holiday), getting a good night’s sleep & drinking lots of water help hugely.

  • Jenna Farmer moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks Rick, I’m so pleased to see you had a good Christmas!

    2 years ago

    I’ve only just begun on my searches for wine that doesn’t upset my stomach. My biggest issues I’ve found have been with gluten and high fructose corn syrup. Even before my diagnosis I couldn’t drink beer or high alcohol content. Always been considered a “cheap” drunk, never takes much and usually goes straight to the head. My last bottle of wine I bought is mainly from grapes. I always have plenty of water around because dehydration worsens when drinking. I also won’t drink unless I’ve eaten.

  • Jenna Farmer moderator author
    2 years ago

    Good luck with your search. Hydration is so so important when drinking alcohol. Jenna ( team member)

    2 years ago

    I’ve had Crohn’s Disease for about 10 years and I do enjoy drinking red wine. I have found, as I’ve become more knowledgeable about wine, quality matters! Very inexpensive wines are filled with chemicals to give the wine a deep red color and “wood” flavoring; they’re also chemically aged instead of aged in oak barrels the way they are supposed to be. So, I notice that cheap wine definitely upsets my system, but I can enjoy a nice glass of dry red wine (cabernet, malbec, or merlot) that is of high quality, without any problems. I like to have one glass a few times per week; sometimes 2 glasses. I always avoid high-sugar and dessert wines (such as port wines, sweet red wines, or moscato), all the sugar in those types of wine will leave me feeling like I’ve tried to eat a broken window pane… Cheers!

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! Everyone with IBD is so different, great reminder that testing and trying can really help. =) – Susan ( Team Member)

  • Mewzie
    2 years ago

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 10, so I never was able to consume alcohol before I had this illness. It didn’t bother me as much when I was younger. (19- early 20s) I drank often. At least a few times a week. (Bad influences) But it didn’t affect me that badly then for whatever reason. The only difference between me and the other people drinking was that I got drunk FAST. 2 beers and I was done. But I also sobered insanely fast. I guess that’s what happens when things just go straight through you. As the years passed though, it became harder and harder to drink at all. I had to cut out certain drinks like beer, wine, dark liquors. I get sick before a buzz happened so there was really no point. It really sucks having a party with friends where you are the only sober one, simply because your body cannot tolerate it. It makes you feel more isolated, like this disease likes to do to us, and it sucks. The only drink I can sort of tolerate now is vodka mixed with a good amount of non-acidic juice. And that’s only on a good day. So now I drink maybe twice a year. New Years and Halloween. 🙂

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