Thriving (not just surviving) Christmas with a Bladder or Bowel Condition

It’s that time of year again where we look forward to indulging in tasty festive treats and drinks, going out and about to visit friends and family or maybe attending the office Christmas party. For those with a bladder or bowel condition, the festive season can be a bit daunting, whether it’s deciding what you can safely eat or drink, through to feeling confident out in large groups.

We spoke to those with either a bladder or bowel condition to find out what their top tips are for surviving Christmas and the New Year.

Consider your food choices

Christmas is usually a time that we associate with indulging in lots of rich food but certain foods can aggravate some bladder or bowel conditions. If you have a stoma some foods are known to cause excess wind or output or cause blockages within the bowel. Foods that are high in fibre such as green veggies (e.g. sprouts!) can produce excess wind, whilst nuts, dried fruits and foods with a tough skin (such as peppers, sweetcorn and jacket potatoes) are more likely to cause a blockage in the bowel. Of course everyone is different and not everyone will experience issues with food. You can always try a small amount of food to see if you react. Foods like chocolate and artificial sweeteners can have a laxative effect.

There are certain foods that can irritate the bladder too, these include citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, sugar and artificial sweeteners. As always it’s about eating these foods in moderation as it’s just as important not to have a restrictive diet. If you know a certain food can trigger your condition then limit it as much as possible but don’t deny yourself the enjoyment.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol if it’s a trigger

We all like to enjoy a sparkling drink or two over the festive period, however too much alcohol can trigger symptoms of your bladder or bowel condition. Excessive alcohol can cause diarrhoea, leave you feeling dehydrated and irritate the bladder, intensifying urgency and frequency symptoms. Caffeine also produces similar effects. It’s important to remain suitably hydrated by drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day to keep your bladder clear and avoid constipation.

Make sure you have enough supplies

Order any supplies such as ostomy bags, catheters and continence supplies that you may need in plenty of time before the Christmas shutdown period. Consider that you may need additional to your usual order to cover you in case of any upset bellies or bladders. Check with your delivery company what their final deadline is for delivery before the Christmas season. Home Delivery customers can click here for festive opening times.

Be prepared and feel confident out and about

A little planning and preparation can help you enjoy and feel less daunted by being out and about during the festive season. Pack a small emergency change kit to keep on your at all times. This may include a spare ostomy bags, catheters, incontinence pads,  spare pair of underwear and clothing. There are discreet continence pads options now available that can help you feel more confident in your best Christmas outfit and high waisted underwear can help to smooth out the outline of an ostomy bag under your favourite dress or shirt.

Travel and shop more confidently with the Sunflower Lanyard

If you are planning on travelling away during the festive period then did you know that the Sunflower Lanyard scheme is available at most UK airports? The Sunflower Lanyard has been designed to discreetly alert airport staff to the fact that the person travelling has an invisible disability/illness and may need extra help or support whilst travelling through the airport.

The Sunflower Lanyard has recently just been launched through many large retailers and supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Argos, Tesco and Marks and Spencer, which will alert staff to ask if you need any extra help with your shopping. Ask at the customer services desk within these stores about the Sunflower Lanyard. This may make THAT Christmas food shop seem less daunting.

Most importantly… Just enjoy yourself!

What was the number one tip given by those with a bladder or bowel condition – relax and enjoy yourself! You deserve to enjoy this time of year as much as anyone else so have those lovely, tasty foods that you like and sample a tipple or two and have lots of fun with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Bladder and Bowel Community!

*Please note that the above advice is based on experiences of those with a bladder or bowel condition and should not be taken as medical advice. It is important that you follow the advice given to you by your GP or Healthcare Professional.