Tips for IBS friendly catering at family gatherings
Catering for larger groups means being mindful of the varying dietary needs of all the people attending. Here are my tips to make the whole process quicker and easier. When planning family gatherings, ideally send out a group message well in advance asking for ‘any dietary sensitivities / requirements’ to assist with menu planning. You might also want to hold the creamy dressing on the salad / keep it to the side, or leave out the onion & garlic from the meat dish (use infused oils & herbs for flavour instead), or volunteer to make a gluten free, dairy free version of the dessert (etc etc).
As a general rule, if you are the one with food sensitivities, it’s your responsibility to clearly communicate these well ahead of an event, or just say you’ll self cater / bring the required alternatives with you. Most people are going to be totally understanding with the increased awareness of gut issues these days, & happy to help by making minor adjustments to dishes…but maybe not learn an entirely new way to cook if no one in their immediate family requires that!
When catering for IBS guests, you should be pretty safe to serve up grilled / Low FODMAP roasted veggies like potato, carrot, pumpkin etc with chicken or fish (or a fish batter can be made GF using rice flour, potato starch, tapioca etc). And it’s an easy google search to find Low FODMAP variations on most classic dishes now.
If you’re doing a breakfast or brunch, catering for IBS folks, Blend11 is generally a crowd pleaser, just make sure you have a lactose free or coconut yoghurt & some berries available as ‘mixers’ to keep it IBS friendly. Remember to soak / activate it in plain water, not in fruit juice or coconut water as these may alter the Low FODMAP status!
Remember - while there are many general guidelines for ‘IBS friendly food’ every sensitive tummy is truly different, & may behave differently on different days of the week, even in response to the same foods (so much fun). When you are the one in an IBS ‘flare’, sometimes fasting is your best (or only) option, or sticking to small serves of foods you know that your body can tolerate. You may want to avoid gatherings altogether when feeling unwell - just let people know you’re not up for socialising / leaving the house / need to focus on some rest & recovery time. You are not alone - there are huge numbers (15-30% of Aussies) who also suffer from IBS - it’s just that most people prefer not to chat about it!
And - most importantly, remember that stress management can be one of the best ways to care for an IBS person (whether it’s yourself or a family member), so keeping life as simple & calm as possible is good, or learning to incorporate more self-care routines can be game-changing. A regular massage, walking in nature, a weekend sleep in, a daily meditation practice, breathwork …. whatever it is that calms you down, do it often. And take some time out to identify your major stress triggers (time well spent). Adjusting life to minimise these could help your gut immensely, not to mention your overall quality of life!