I had a really trying Thanksgiving.
My husband, Chris, and I traveled back to Pennsylvania to celebrate it with our families. Both sets of parents live there and we haven’t been back for the turkey day festivities for over 10 years. It should’ve been wonderful… and most of it was, except that I was dealing with some major gut issues. I was suffering from my old nemesis, fructose malabsorption AND was having major problems with the rest of the FODMAPs, too.
We ate Thanksgiving dinner at his parent’s house, at my sister’s house, then at my parent’s house. You know what was on my Thanksgiving plates at all 3 of those places? Slabs of turkey. No cranberry sauce, no green beans, no nut butter-thickened turkey gravy. Turkey. That is it. My body simply wouldn’t stand for anything else.
Since then I’ve been doing much, MUCH better. I’ve really incorporated the low-FODMAP diet into SCD and have seen WONDERFUL results. Really, it is amazing.
What I’m trying to tell you is that I’ve navigated the holidays waters and have come out the other side without too many scrapes.
The following are my strategies to remain sane during digestive-problem-flares (to be utilized during any time of the year):
1. Take care of yourself
First and foremost, make sure that you have plenty of your feel-good food. For those of us who suffer from malnutrition or have lost weight during the introduction phase, get enough calories. If you need a few extra portions of frozen chicken soup, make it and stick it in the freezer. If you believe that bone broth will help heal you, by all means, buy those stewing bones, drop them in a pot and let it simmer away on the stove!!
It is also critical to get enough sleep. I’ve borrowed this next part from the Paleo folks; make your bedroom dark and get to bed early! Bow out of those get togethers before your normal bedtime. Sometimes we all must draw those boundaries and guard your “recharge” time. For goodness sake, it will help you ward off colds and leave you feeling ready to face any holiday gatherings that you’ll attend. Best of all, sleep will give your body a chance to heal.
2. Pamper yourself
Over Thanksgiving, I had a few cups of tea everyday. I really enjoy a steaming mug of green tea or peppermint tea, but what you drink is your choice. It always makes me feel better.
I also love to sit by the fire with a good book. Or snuggle up with a cozy blanket around your shoulders and watch a great movie. For the men out there, watch a good football game.
For the women out there, other ideas include getting a manicure/pedicure or paint your nails yourself! A hair cut and weave always leave me feeling good and well taken care of, with little energy expended (but my wallet is a bit lighter when I leave the salon). Buy some special lotion or facial scrub, whatever will make you feel happiest.
3. Do NOT watch the Food Network or Cooking Channel
This one is self-explanatory.
4. Steer clear of bakeries and eateries with incredible (SCD-illegal) food/beer
When my health is poor, I often feel wistful about the food that I used to eat. And what I enjoyed A LOT was baked goods and fantastic restaurants. Damn those inventive bakers and chefs.
This category includes microbreweries with awesome ales (ah hem… this one is for the men) and wine/beer stores. If you must go into a store like this, steer clear of the dangerous aisles that are stocked with lots of craft beers. Stick to the aisles of dry wines (wines with low residual sugar) and buy something that you’re dying to try.
5. Focus on anything other than the kitchen and food
It really helps to keep my mind and body occupied with other thoughts and activities.
Wrap presents. Run errands for your mother. Get that last minute holiday gift (but avoid the mall’s food court).
Those ideas work during the holiday season, but what about during the festivities? These are my strategies to employ during holiday meals or parties:
1. Only help with the food preparation if you must
It is difficult to cook/bake food that you can’t eat, depending on how you feel.
2. Don’t look at the food on the table (if it is filled with stuff that you can’t eat)
Seriously, at Thanksgiving, I focused on my plate and on other people’s faces at the table. I didn’t let myself look below their faces. I kept my gaze fixed on them from the neck up and pretended that the table was just blurred out and fuzzy.
3. Focus on others by asking them questions
This useful strategy is a great mind-distracter. I used this one while at a Christmas luncheon at work. My colleagues ordered a few amazing appetizers that weren’t SCD-legal. While they began eating, the discussion lagged. I took this opportunity to lead the small talk. Not only did I learn more about my co-workers through my questions, but it also gave me a chance to tell them about things that interest me, which I usually don’t mention.
At the very least, employ one of these lines (depending on who you’re talking to):
Are you ready for Christmas?
What are you going to do for New Year’s Eve?
How was your Hanukkah?
4. After the meal, get away from the table ASAP
It is better not to linger at the table, especially when there are serving dishes with a few pieces left of delectable-looking fill-in-the-blank left on them. Do the dishes while coffee and dessert is being served. The hostess will thank you for it! If you must, go watch football with Uncle Billy and your 2 brother-in-laws. Get your nieces to show you what their favorite presents were. I’m not kidding, just get outta’ there!
I hope that you, dear Reader, are in good health and don’t need these strategies, but if you do, then good luck.
You will get through the holiday season. If I can do it, you can do it.
Happy Holidays and XO,
Theresa ~SCD Griddle