Surviving the holidays with Crohn’s or colitis

Christmas decorations

The holidays aren’t always easy when you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Lots of food and fun – and a dash of stress – can all add up when your body is a bit more sensitive. If you are in a flare, you might feel like you’re missing out on things or unable to live life to the fullest. If you are in remission, you might be concerned about triggering a flare. Here are eight lifestyle tips for the holiday season:

1. Eat smaller meals

The holidays often introduce plenty of rich food, snacks and sweets. Take your time and avoiding overeating to avoid adding stress to your digestive system.

2. Take a deep breath

The holidays can be stressful – even without a chronic disease like Crohn’s or colitis. Make sure you take time for yourself – to relax and unwind – and avoid any unnecessary stresses that may start piling up. Know your limits and don’t push yourself.

3. Everything in moderation

If you’re indulging in a special treat, make sure you do so in moderation. You know your body – but remember that too much of a good thing might just set you off.

4. Be adaptable

Stuff happens. No one wants to be sick during the holidays, but that’s sometimes life with a chronic disease. It might mean having a visit with friends in the hospital, cutting back on your ambitious plans for a big holiday dinner, or even celebrating on a different day so everyone can be there. In the video below, Cathy shares her experience with a bad holiday flare:

5. Make the most of it!

Like Cathy’s story above, try to see the positives and make the most of the opportunities you have with family and friends. Keep it simple and focus on the things that are really important to you.

6. Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine

Your friends and family might be getting in the ‘spirit’ of the season – but alcoholic drinks and caffeine are hard on your body and leave you dehydrated. Alternating drinks with water is a great way to stay hydrated and avoid overdoing it.

7. Get organized by making lists

It will be much easier to handle holiday stress if you have a to-do list! Better yet – delegate some of those list items to family and friends!

8. Lean on your friends and family

Be open and honest about the way you’re feeling – don’t be afraid to ask for help! The holidays are a time to lean on friends and family for support.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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