Coping with Autoimmune Disease during the Holidays

Between accommodating visiting relatives, mountains of tempting food, and hours of time spent cooking and shopping, the holidays can be overwhelming for those living with an autoimmune disease. If the season has you saying “bah humbug,” here is a cheat sheet to help you find the holiday cheer.

Coping with Autoimmune Disease during the Holidays - Pain Free Travel!

Pain-Free Travel

If you’re traveling this holiday season, make sure you’re prepared in case of a bumpy ride.

  1. Pack extra medication and supplies in case of unexpected flares. To avoid problems at security, bring paperwork for medication and inform TSA beforehand if you’ll be traveling with needles or injectable medication.
  2. If you get aches and pains from sitting for long periods, bring a cane, cushion or travel chair to stay comfortable.
  3. For those living with type 1 diabetes, avoid a timing mix-up for insulin dosing during travel by maintaining your original time zone on your watch or phone.

Coping with Autoimmune Disease during the Holidays - Food for Thought

Food for Thought

The holidays can be an exhausting temptation trap. Make a game plan so you don’t get caught off-guard.

  1. Rather than feeling the pressure to whip up a holiday feast, host a potluck instead. Everyone will feel involved, and the best part: you won’t feel stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted by the festivities.
  2. Complicated recipes and long hours in the kitchen can mean pain and exhaustion for those living with an autoimmune disease. Slow cookers, electric mixers and food processors can help ease the pain while still creating something delicious.
  3. Instead of sacrificing your favorite dishes, find alternative recipes that work for your diet and symptoms. For inspiration, check out holiday-friendly recipes from the American Diabetes Association or the Celiac Foundation.

Coping with Autoimmune Disease during the Holidays - New Traditions

New Traditions

Create new traditions with family and friends for your health and well-being without sacrificing fun.

  1. Holiday shopping can be exhausting for someone living with chronic pain. Instead of shopping until you drop, host an online shopping party with friends or make handmade gifts together.
  2. If you feel up to it, consider participating in a walk or run that supports an autoimmune disease, like the Autoimmune Walk. You will be spending time with loved ones while supporting a cause that is near to your heart.
  3. If you’re going to be out of town for the holidays, suggest an accessible activity with friends. For example, the National MS Society offers travel recommendations for fun, inclusive options, including slow walking tours or lists of wheelchair accessible destinations.
  4. It can be tempting to become a couch potato after the big holiday meal, but a little physical activity, like a walk around the neighborhood, can aid digestion and improve aches and pains

Coping with Autoimmune Disease during the Holidays - Supporting a Loved One

Supporting a Loved One

The holidays can be an anxious time for those with an autoimmune disease. Consider one of these thoughtful gestures to let your loved ones know you’re thinking of them.

  1. Volunteer to support with preparing food, cleaning, or setting the table before the holiday meal. Anything that makes life a little easier helps.
  2. Consider a gift to help your loved one de-stress from the holiday insanity, such as a yoga mat, candles, essential oils, or a blanket.
  3. Instead of purchasing a trinket, show your support by donating to a foundation or organization supporting autoimmune disease research.
  4. Offer to babysit their children to give them the best gift of all: time for self-care.

The holiday season is meant to be a joyful time with family and friends, not a stressful occasion. Remember to set expectations with loved ones and never feel guilty for doing what you feel is best for your health.

From all of us here at BRI, we wish you and your family a healthy, happy holiday!


The information provided in this post should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. Check in with your doctor to make sure you’re following the right precautions and planning according to your health needs.


Living With A Disease

November 20, 2018

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