“You’re Invited!” Do those words make you apprehensive? Does your anxiety begin to soar? We get it. Going to parties is supposed to be fun. You get to socialize with family and friends, maybe even dress up a little bit. There’s food and drink…yeah, we know, that’s where the problem lies! For most folks, holiday and party food is something to look forward to. For those of us with IBS it can be a nightmare.
Now that we know about the low FODMAP diet at least we know there is light at the end of the party tunnel. There ARE many foods we can eat. The issue is that when we are attending a party, we do not have control over the menu, which makes our participation a minefield.
Here are our best tips for surviving a holiday party.
Be a Gracious Guest - If the party is potluck, then you are in luck! You can bring a low FODMAP dish and know for sure that you will be able to eat. Even if it is not, perhaps contact the host, briefly explain that you have some dietary restrictions, and that you would love to offer to bring a dish. Use your instincts here. For some hosts and/or for some parties, this will not be practical.
Eat Before You Go - By snacking on some tried and true low FODMAP food before the party you will not only not go hungry, you will also be less tempted to eat something at the party that could create havoc with your gut later. And we don’t just mean carrot sticks! Eat some protein, even if it is just a hard boiled egg or some leftover chicken from dinner the night before. A rice cake with peanut butter is a quick solution, too. And, know that this is just one party. Most only last a few hours. You are not going to starve!
Reconnaissance - You will probably know from the invitation whether the party is a buffet or a sit-down meal. If it is a sit-down, contact the host ahead of time, if it is feasible, to inquire about the menu. Again, explain that you have some dietary restrictions and that you just need to plan. If it is a buffet, it’s time to do some reconnaissance once you arrive at the party. Peruse the foods. Some things will be obvious. The hard cheeses and grapes on the cheese board will be fine, in moderation. The onion dip? Steer clear.
If there are indeterminate items, see if you can find out the ingredients. That already-dressed salad might look innocent, until you find out that there is a lot of garlic in the salad dressing. As you look over the offerings promise yourself that you will only eat what you know to be okay and to not eat what you know is high FODMAP - even though it looks like it might taste amazing. Will power is hard, but this is the time to harness it.
And Speaking of Moderation - This is key, for parties and everyday, when you are following a low FODMAP diet. Even when you identify what you can eat, go slow and keep track of portion control. It is very easy, especially at a buffet, to over eat. This can trigger an IBS attack, so be mindful. (Check out our article on Mindful Eating, too!)
Have a Smart Phone? Use It! - Okay stick with us here. Using your smart phone to chat with your BFF during a party is not what we are suggesting. What we are suggesting is that if you have a question about an ingredient, that the Monash University Smartphone App can be your best friend. We use ours multiple times a day. You could discretely look up an ingredient, even during an event, thereby taking the guesswork out of the equation.
Now Go and Enjoy Your Holiday Parties!