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Why Holidays Are A Bit Harder Living with IBD

This year I find myself a bit more stable and even excited for the holidays, which is a massive difference from last year and years before.

I have an incredible partner who loves me and helps me when I am ill and makes things even better on my really good days. I’ve become closer to my family and my adorable niece and nephews and truly cherish every moment I am able to spend with them. I know what it feels like to not be able to spend special moments & holidays with them.

I’ve missed Easters, Thanksgivings & birthdays. My loved ones may never know how much it hurt to be “excluded” from. Yes, excluded. IBD doesn’t discriminate which days it chooses to steal from you. It doesn’t take into account the most important birthdays, work parties and circumstances that you have absolutely no control of.

The worst part

It robs you of days you can’t get back. And the worst part of really bad holidays? Waking up the next day and feeling OK and wondering why the day before couldn’t have been like you are today.

The worst part is the lack of control. You have no control over the timing of your flares, when you may react to a certain food, knowing how much of a “sassy” food you can test the waters with, how much alcohol you can intake without pushing the limit, and how much sleep you get the night before. Sleep is the biggest trigger of all for me.

Then there is the other very difficult part. Socializing during a flare. Even if they may not be, you feel like people will investigate why you’re eating a certain food and why you aren’t eating others. Personally, for me, there have been holidays where I’ve attended and been unable to eat anything. This can be awkward and humbling for almost anyone.

Eating during gatherings

You’re not alone. My biggest tip as far as eating during gatherings is to be prepared. If you know when meal time is, prepare. I usually eat a small meal or a snack before I go anywhere. Something safe that I know I won’t be running back and forth to the bathroom if I’m traveling, something small to hold me over if I don’t recognize or see any foods at the parties that I’m able to eat, or just to make myself feel better and stand out a little bit less if I only pick out just a few things to eat. Conversations can move along more quickly once we’ve passed the “aren’t you going to eat anything else?” stage.

If you’re lucky, and your family cares, you’ll notice they start to observe you less as time goes on and that they rarely actually ask what and why you are/aren’t eating certain things or at all. Use the awkwardness to your advantage if a rude question or comment comes up. The ball is in your court with how much you’d like to say or offer to others. Using these times as an opportunity to educate others can go a long way and family members that are afraid to ask but wonder may overhear and receive answers to questions they were afraid to ask!

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.