The holidays are a wonderful time of year but it can be a disruptive period if you are managing your bowel with Transanal Irrigation (TAI). From family visits to festive food and drink, it can prove very difficult to maintain your bowel routine, so we’ve put together these top tips to help you manage over the holidays.
Plan for visiting family and friends
Whether you are traveling to meet your family and friends or hosting your own events over the holidays, having lots of extra people around can be daunting. If you irrigate every day, setting time aside to irrigate before shorter visits will mean that you can do so in privacy.
If you have family staying for a few days or are expecting to be away from home yourself, then you may need to consider irrigating over this period. If there are multiple toilets in the building, ask to ‘reserve’ one for your use to allow you the privacy needed to irrigate.
- Keep an eye on festive foods
Festive feasts are an important part of the holidays. However, increased portion sizes, an abundance of fatty foods and a general lack of fiber on the dinner table can all slow down bowel transit and will contribute to constipation.
Some festive foods are especially hard to digest. Brussel sprouts, for example, are notoriously difficult on the digestive system so should be eaten in moderation. Keeping an eye on both the size of your portions and the type of food on your plate will help you to manage your bowel more efficiently.
- Avoid stress
The holidays are a lot of work: buying gifts, decorating, planning events, as well as loads of additional commitments can be difficult to manage. For some of us this increased workload can be very stressful – and this may in turn have a direct impact on your bowel. Take opportunities to avoid stressful situations and try to find someone else to help share the festive workload with.
- Think before you drink
Alcohol consumption typically rises over the holidays with the influx of office parties, big meals and family events. Unfortunately, alcoholic drinks will likely increase the speed of your digestive system and could lead to waste moving too quickly through your large intestine for all the water to be absorbed. This results in diarrhea. In addition, the rapid movement of your digestive system can make the need to go to the bathroom come on very suddenly.
Some people also report constipation as a side effect of drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to produce more urine than you are absorbing in fluid, which leads to dehydration, dryer stools and ultimately constipation.
Don’t let this put you off enjoying your favorite drink, but remember to exercise caution around the amount of alcohol you consume. If you can, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as this will increase the likelihood of a successful irrigation.
- Stock up for the season
As some businesses may shut down at some point over the holidays, it’s worth stocking up on everything you need to manage your bowel in advance. Check with your pharmacy to find out what dates they are closed over the festive period and make sure to stock up on any essential medications beforehand.
- Find out where to go if you have difficulties
While hospitals are one of the few organizations that will be open across the festive period, some services might be operating a skeleton staff. It’s worth checking what sort of cover is provided by your usual clinician to ensure that you know who to contact if you have any difficulties with your bowel management over the holidays.
Managing your bowel over the festive period shouldn’t prevent you from taking part in the usual celebrations with your friends and family. In fact performing TAI can give you more freedom than other bowel management techniques, allowing you to enjoy the holidays your way.
For more general tips on transanal irrigation you can read our patient guide ‘Life with Transanal Irrigation (TAI). Click the button below to download