Celebrating Summer Holidays: Managing Inflammatory Bowel Disease with Healthy Eating

Medically reviewed by Dr. Omer Shahab, Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist

The aroma of barbecues, the laughter of family and friends, and the joy of outdoor activities define the essence of summer holidays. However, when living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, indulging in the festivities requires a touch of careful planning. But fear not! A healthy Fourth of July with IBD is not only possible but also enjoyable. This guide will walk you through some savvy strategies to manage your IBD and still have a blast this holiday season.

Know Your IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease encompasses chronic conditions leading to inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract. From Crohn’s disease affecting any part of the digestive tract to ulcerative colitis focusing on the colon and rectum, IBD can trigger symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. There’s no known cure for IBD yet, but managing the disease can hinge on the right medication, lifestyle modifications, and a healthy diet.

Celebrate with IBD-friendly Eating:

  • Know your Culinary Enemies: With IBD, certain foods can trigger unwelcome flare-ups. Common culprits include spicy dishes, fatty or fried delights, caffeine, alcohol, and high-fiber foods. So, before you join the festive melee, keep a tab on your personal trigger foods and plan your feast accordingly.

  • Take the Chef’s Hat: Taking control of your culinary choices ensures a safe and healthy dining experience. How about a delicious salad with leafy greens, low-fiber veggies, and lean protein? Or maybe some grilled chicken skewers, vegetable kebabs, or a homemade hummus dip with gluten-free crackers? Crafting your dishes not only guarantees IBD-friendly meals but also introduces others to your healthy lifestyle!

  • Go for the Grill: Summer and grilling go hand in hand. Opt for lean proteins like skinless chicken, turkey burgers, or fish over red meats. Marinade these in herbs, spices, and citrus juices for a flavorful feast that doesn’t rely on fats or sauces.

  • Fruit & Veggie Power: Nutrient-rich, easy-on-the-stomach, and absolutely delicious – fruits and veggies are your best friends. Assemble vibrant fruit salads, serve vegetable skewers, or try grilled corn on the cob and baked sweet potato wedges. The variety and color will only add to the festive spirit!

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Hot summer days call for ample hydration. Opt for infused water or herbal teas instead of sugary drinks. If you’re considering alcohol, remember to keep it moderate as it can potentially exacerbate IBD symptoms.

Living with IBD means adapting your lifestyle, but it certainly doesn’t mean bidding farewell to the joy of festivities. Remember, everyone’s IBD journey is unique, so be sure to consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to craft a diet plan that best fits your needs. With a dash of planning and a spoonful of smart choices, you’re all set for a healthy, happy, and memorable Fourth of July.