It’s the silly season again! We will all be tempted to eat far too much, drink ourselves daft and collapse in front of the telly. And then there’s the relatives. They come bearing gifts we don’t want and stay for too long. Oh I know, it’s not like that in your house. But the fact of the matter is, this is the time of the year that plays havoc with your IBS. Too much food and too much emotion can easily churn up sensitive guts. Who wants to spend Christmas on the loo?




1. Know your limits. We consume three times as many calories on Christmas Day as on a normal day – and many of us will have more than one Christmas meal as we celebrate with friends, family and workmates. So listen to your gut. Eat to savour and enjoy the different tastes. What’s the point in stuffing yourself like the turkey?

There are plenty of tasty temptations over Christmas...

There are plenty of tasty temptations over Christmas…

2. Avoid snacking throughout the day, allow yourself to feel hungry for your Christmas feast.

3. Cut down on fat; it will only upset you. Christmas food contains large amounts of fat. Ask yourself, do I really need all that gravy, the sausage meat, that extra helping of Christmas pudding and double cream and all those mince pies.

4. Don’t eat more unless you’re still hungry. Seconds are never as good as the first time round. The cheeseboard and Christmas cake will keep.

5. Beat the bloat. So much of our Christmas fare gives us wind. Do you really want those sprouts or all that bread sauce and a spoonful of cranberry sauce is enough? And don’t tuck into too many of those dried figs, dried apricots or dates.

6. Go easy on the alcohol. It will only upset you and your gut. Drink enough lubricate the conversation, but never lose control. And stay hydrated. Drink a tumbler of water for every alcoholic drink.

7. Make sure you have some medication to ease your stomach. Some antacids such as Settlers or Rennies and a deflatulent such as Windeze or a combination treatment such as Silicol Gel are always useful to have on hand. And if you’re sick, stop, rest and don’t eat again until you feel better.

8. And if your cooking the Christmas meal, plan well in advance, prep up your dishes the night before, get the timing right, get others to help you. Keep focussed. Don’t be tempted to have a drink while you are preparing your meal.

9. Don’t stay in all the time. Go for a walk with the family. Allow them to let off steam. Then when everybody is nicely relaxed, get the meal together.

10. Remember, there is such a lot of stuff going on when families get together. Be tactful. Safemusic rows occur over the Christmas than at other times. Don’t be provoked.

Dr Nick Read is a new blogger on the talkmusic platform. He is a gastroenterologist and psychoanalytical psychotherapist, and chair and medical adviser to , an independent charity that supports, informs and advises people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and facilitates the concept of self care of IBS in the community.


Dr Nick Read

Dr Nick Read is a gastroenterologist and psychoanalytical psychotherapist, who works to help people manage illnesses that have no obvious medical explanation. He is currently chair and medical adviser to The IBS Network, an independent charity that supports, informs and advises people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and facilitates the concept of self care of IBS in the community. This year he completed The IBS Self Care Plan, a comprehensive self help resource available on the website. He has occupied chairs in Gastrointestinal Physiology, Human Nutrition and Integrated Medicine at Sheffield University, where he co-authored 10 books and over 500 original papers. He has also published a popular monograph, ‘Sick and Tired, healing the diseases doctors cannot cure’ (Wiedenfeld and Nicholson 2005, Phoenix 2006).

One Response to 10 Tips for Keeping Your Gut Healthy This Christmas

  1. heather ellison

    Sound advice, as it’s so easy to feel you need to appease the chef and take more than you need. It’s not impolite to ask for a doggy bag and savour some later. When I host I love to give away food, rather than bin it.

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