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The holidays are fast approaching and that means parties galore! Office get-togethers, family gatherings, and neighborhood celebrations are filling up the calendar now until New Year’s Eve.

As much fun as the holidays can be, it can also be a time of stress for ostomates. It’s important to recognize that this can be a crazy time, and with so much going on it’s sometimes easy to forget to take care of yourself and manage your ostomy.

Here are 7 tips to help ostomates enjoy the holiday season, from what to wear, to what to talk about and more.

1. Plan ahead and prepare for ordering challenges.

Do you have enough ostomy supplies on hand? If not, now’s probably the best time to place an order. Online medical suppliers and shipping companies are extra busy during the holidays, so you may experience delays due to staff shortages or bad winter weather.

2. Let family rituals change.

If you’re attending a family event, it doesn’t mean you need to eat food that you’re not comfortable with just to please them. Consider updating holiday meals with some new recipes to go along with the familiar dishes, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to try something new. Most holiday celebrations are potluck style anyway, so offering to bring something won’t be too out of the ordinary. If you are the host, suggest that your guests bring a dish so that they everyone can enjoy their favorite food.

3. Know what to say.

Relatives and friends who know about your ostomy understand and won’t insist you eat everything that’s being served. If you encounter a situation where people do not know you’re an ostomate, there’s no need to go into any long explanations at the dinner table. Saying “no thank you” should work if you’re passed a dish that you prefer not to eat.

4. Drink plenty of water.

I know this is probably something you hear every time someone talks to you about an ostomy (especially an ileostomy), but it’s true that staying well hydrated can help. Water is essential for the proper circulation of nutrients in the body. Sometimes headaches can be caused by dehydration, so drinking water can prevent or alleviate the pain. Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated during the holidays!

5. Wear whatever feels right.

Loose clothing that is not too tight around your belly can help you feel more relaxed about your ostomy. Whether the party is casual or formal, don’t stress over your outfit. Be comfortable and remember to pack extra ostomy supplies and clothes if you’re taking a road trip somewhere far from home.

6. Slow down and eat for pleasure.

Eating slowly and chewing your food well is important to help prevent blockages when you have an ostomy. It may sound obvious, but enjoying the flavor of food makes it a pleasurable experience. When you savor your food, you’re less likely to overindulge which can cause unwanted digestive issues.

7. Make time to express gratitude.

Letting your family and friends know that you are grateful for their support during your ostomy surgery and recovery can actually make celebrations even better. If this is your first holiday with an ostomy, it might be an important thing to do. Sharing love and appreciation with others has such an uplifting effect.

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