Uncomfortable Holiday Questions
The holiday season is a perfect opportunity for families and friends to get together. We are sometimes fortunate to not see people we haven’t seen in a while. People who aren’t apart of your routine and may not be familiar with your life and needs. Because of this, there may be a lot of questions and concerns about your health.
For the most part, these inquiries come from a good place. A place of love, concern and some curiosity. However, sometimes this can be overwhelming. Having to answer personal questions that you may not be ready or comfortable answering. Or you may see it as the perfect opportunity to educate people about IBD. Whichever way you feel, you should be prepared. Here are some bullet points you can use to explain what inflammatory bowel disease is, how it affects your life, and what they can do to help.
Explaining IBD to others during the holidays
Give a brief explanation of what inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis) is and how it has affected your body. Remind them that there is no known cure or cause. Let them know that dietary restrictions are individualized because the disease is individualized. What may be healthy for one person is not healthy for all.
IBD is not the same as IBS. But someone can have both. IBD is not contagious. There is a very low chance of passing it on. And you can still have children. When the subject of diet comes up, you can either pivot or ignore. I personally like to remind people that my nutrition and my remission will not be tested by a healthy person's fad diet.
Accepting help from others
If someone asks how they can help, before being quick to say no, take a moment of consideration. Most people want to be of service and help out. Think about what would improve your quality of life and make a list. Have that list prepared for when this question comes up so you can give a helpful answer. It can be anything from a prepared dish to watching the kids for an hour while you nap. Sometimes people just need direction.
The most important thing to remember is that you reserve the right to answer or not answer anything you want. The story of your condition and its effects on your life is your business. You can choose to respond, and education or you can choose not to. Either way is perfectly okay. It’s okay to say, “I actually would love to spend today not talking about my disease. I would much rather talk about something more pleasant.”
It’s okay to shut down the questions at the start of the evening. It's okay to shut down the question at any point. You are also allowed to censor your answers. You are not a specimen or a museum piece on display. It’s your life, and you do not owe anyone an explanation. Protect your own mental health so that you can enjoy the holiday like everyone else! The holiday season should bring everyone joy, not discomfort. Find your peace and joy. Happy Holidays!
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?