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December 9, 2019


Managing IBS is hard, right?! Even at the best of times. The times when it’s gorgeous weather outside, you’re feeling really motivated to eat right, you’re sticking to all your routines and you’re mainly cooking for yourself…

 At other times, when those things aren’t happening, it’s even harder to manage your IBS. The times when it’s dark and miserable outside, you’re feeling like all you want to eat is cake and stuffing, you’re finding it hard to stick to your routines and you’re mainly eating at Christmas parties and family gatherings.

We’re going to talk about these times today, a.k.a. ‘The Party Season,’ and how to navigate them without making your IBS symptoms even worse.



I know what you’re thinking…’boring!’ but hear me out.

This season involves tonnes of parties, lunches, family gatherings and general excuses for drinking much more than we normally would.

We all know alcohol isn’t good for our gut and doesn’t do any favors for our bloating. About 1/3 of IBS sufferers say it makes their symptoms much worse. This is because alcohol speeds up how quickly food moves through your gut, which can trigger diarrhoea. It increases acid production in your stomach, which can trigger heartburn, reflux and nausea. Also, it means you don’t break down your food as well, so your gut bacteria can feed on it and produce gas and pain. Therefore, it’s likely to trigger diarrhoea, heartburn and stomach pain.

That being said, we don’t want to spend this whole season drinking mocktails and not joining in. We don’t want to deprive ourselves of mulled wine and egg nog. You don’t have to completely abstain, just a be a bit conscious about it.


  • Firstly, alcohol is more likely to trigger symptoms if you have several drinks in one go, so try to stick to one or two at a time.

  • Secondly, when you do drink, try to go for wine or clear spirits. They’re generally much better tolerated and lower in FODMAPs than beer, cider and darker spirits.


When you’re partying, you’re often drinking alcohol and other drinks that aren’t necessarily hydrating. It’s cold outside, making it much less tempting to gulp down water. You’re then tired the next day so likely drinking more caffeine to get through. Also, it’s cold outside, making it much less tempting to gulp down water. All of this is a recipe for dehydration, which can cause gut symptoms.

Why? Well, one of the major things water does is bulk up your poo and keep it moving along. So, not having enough can leave you unable to poop properly. That results in bloating and constipation.

To keep your digestion moving along during the party season, try and up your water intake…and it doesn’t have to be cold water. Warm water and herbal teas also count towards your daily intake.

A couple of things that work for my clients are:

  • Starting the day with a large mug of warm water (I boil the kettle then fill half the mug with this water and half with cold from the tap). This way you’ve got a load of water in before you even start your day.

  • Keeping a bottle or an endless supply of herbal tea on your desk and sipping throughout the day. Treat yourself to some new flavors so you’re excited to keep drinking.

  • At a party, follow each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to keep you hydrated during the night (I remember my mum telling me to do this when I went out as an 18 year old…and me definitely not listening!).


Another thing that happens during this time of year is that your sleep gets disrupted when you’re out later than normal, on a regular basis.

Hands up if you find yourself more bloated after a bad night’s sleep. Me too. Not getting your full 7-8 hours can have a huge impact on your IBS. Sleep gives your body time to digest your food. If it only has 5 hours to do that, it’s not going to finish digesting and so you’ll wake up bloated and uncomfortable.

On top of that, a lack of sleep raises your hunger hormone, ghrelin, and reduces your appetite suppressing hormone, leptin, so you feel hungrier AND you’re more likely to crave sugar foods and less likely to make sensible food choices. It becomes a downward spiral.

So, try and stop this spiral as much as you can (or at least slow it down). Where possible, even if you’re out later, try and still give yourself that 8 hour window to sleep, by setting your alarm a little later. If it’s the weekend, lie in a bit longer. If you have the luxury of flexible working, don’t set any early meetings the next day and start a little later.

If you can’t get up any later, try leaving a little earlier from the party. The hours of sleep before midnight are so important, so even if you’re just in bed by 11.30 rather than 12, it could make a big difference to how you feel the next day. You can still enjoy the evening but also not feel dreadful as a result.


One of the main reasons for ‘messing up’ your gut friendly diet and caving for something you know is going to trigger symptoms is simply being starving and unprepared. If you turn up at a party hungry, and all that’s on offer is cheese and breaded foods (and you know dairy and gluten trigger symptoms for you), you’re going to end up caving in and then feeling awful.

However, if you go to that party satisfied, and not starving, you’re going to be far less likely to cave and shove a block of brie in your mouth. So, you’ll actually be able to enjoy yourself at the party and not spend it in the bathroom.

So, make sure you have something filling before you go. Even if you have to head straight after work, think ahead and buy something that you can quickly eat at your desk before you leave. If a meal isn’t an option, bring snacks. Carry a couple of safe snacks (e.g. cereal bars or nuts) with you, so you can munch on one of those if there’s nothing safe at the party, instead of reaching for that cheese.


This time of year can make it much harder to manage your IBS and keep symptoms at bay, but it can be done.

4 Steps to Navigate the Party Season:

1. Be careful with alcohol

2. Stay hydrated

3. Get enough sleep

4. Don’t go to a party hungry

Happy Partying!

Want even more tips on surviving the entire holiday season? I’ve just created a FREE IBS HOLIDAY SURVIVAL COURSE. Find out more here then just pop in your email address to get started today.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and letting me be a part of your journey in taking control of your gut, eating well and living your life.

Sophie x

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