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Categories > Holidays >
Survival Guide


Does the following sound familiar? Your little brother is tugging on your arm while you're trying to concentrate on your new PS3. Your mom's bugging you to finish the dishes and you have a binder full of homework you haven't even started! Meanwhile (as if you don't have enough to deal with right now) you're trying to recover from a flare-up and you're in absolutely no mood to deal. Ah!

Sometimes, having Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can make it tough (ahem) to get into the holiday spirit. But with careful planning, and a little help from family and friends, you can make this the best holiday season ever. No, really.


No more around-the-store lines, cranky old ladies and stinky escalators. Let your home become your shopping mall! With your trusty computer and access to the Internet you can order absolutely anything online! From your little sister's fave CD to something with a personal touch for Uncle Mortimer and Aunt Edna. Mail-order catalogs, or TV channels like QVC and the Home Shopping Network, make it a snap to shop by phone. Need holiday cards? Easy! Just order your Christmas and Chanukah cards direct from CCFA! (FYI, Just call CCFA's membership department, at 800-932-2423, ext. 249, for ordering info.) Basically, you don't have to go far to shop till you drop. Phew! Thank goodness for modern technology, eh?


Whether you're spending the holidays at home or traveling elsewhere for the festivities, don't feel guilty if you have to say, "no thanks" to Aunt Edna's famous Turducken. Be sure also to get plenty of sleep and don't hesitate to excuse yourself for a catnap if need be. Watching your diet and allowing yourself rest is way important for your wellbeing. In the long run, you'll enjoy yourself a lot more (and so will those closest to you) with a little extra sleep and a not-so-overwhelming holiday feast.

  • Don't be afraid to ask your family and best pals to lend a hand. Be specific: Ask them to help with errands or clean-up duties. Don't hesitate to call up your BFF to help with your holiday shopping. Not up for dish-duties? Explain to family and friends that you're happy to watch, instead.
  • Try not to overindulge! It may be tempting, but you'll feel better if you avoid problem foods. Try to maintain your regular meal schedule (overeat and you'll be sorry) and be sure to catch some Z's when you can. A nap here and there can make a great deal of difference. Oh, yeah, and be sure to stay away from all-nighters. Not. Good.
  • If your illness forces your family to change its plans, don't even think about feeling guilty. Family and friends will totally understand. What's most important is that you feel better. No matter what! If it doesn't work out this time, talk to your family about having a special celebration when you feel up to it. Come to think of it, a second Christmas or ninth day of Chanukah wouldn't be so bad.
  • Invited to a friend's holiday party? Be sure to call your friend in advance. Explain that you're on a special diet and would be happy to bring along your own food.
  • If and when Uncle Mortimer urges you to sample problem foods, avoid awkward explanations. Just tell them him you're on a medical diet. Then, compliment his reindeer tie.



Sometimes things just don't work. Maybe you have to cancel holiday plans because of a flare-up. Or you wind up home alone or in the hospital. Coping with such problems during the holidays can be super tough and especially frustrating. Still, there are ways to make the best of a worst scenario and party on.

  • If you're well enough to get out of the house for a few hours, consider helping others who are less fortunate. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or visit an elderly neighbor who can't leave his apartment. It's amazing how much better you will feel lending a hand.
  • Hospitalized? Ask family and friends to swing by and hang out with you (and bring DVDs and/or magazines). If you'd rather not postpone the family's holiday celebration, bring it to your hospital room! Just because you're in bed doesn't mean you can't roll your eyes at Uncle Mortimer's rendition on Silent Night on the Ukulele. Taking part in the hospital's holiday programs can boost your spirits, too. But, if you're not up for visitors don't hesitate to tell your peeps. Promise yourself that you'll celebrate on New Year's Eve, President's Day (Abraham Lincoln was a great man) or whenever you're feeling up to it. You can still party it up on your terms!
  • Don't bottle up your feelings. If you're feeling down, talk honestly with a family member or significant other. Write your feelings down in a private journal or blog about it publicly. Call a good friend or a trusted clergyman.
  • Invited to a friend's holiday party? Be sure to call your friend in advance. Explain that you're on a special diet and would be happy to bring along your own food.
  • Sometimes, no matter how we try, we simply feel that we can't cope any more. If you're feeling super down in the dumps, don't hesitate to seek the help of a professional therapist.
    Remember: The holiday spirit is not about mounds of presents or elaborate meals. Be sure to be prepared but also, try to be flexible. Above all, enjoy the love and support of family and friends, laugh, play, rock and roll, and you'll be sure to make this holiday season one to remember!