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Why Lunar New Year Celebrations Benefit IBS Sufferers

January 22, 2023 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, or the moon cycles. Although the tradition is celebrated primarily in east Asian countries, festivities can be found all around the world. Traditionally, the Lunar New Year is a time to honor ancestors, heavenly deities, good health, fortune, and family with symbolic foods.

This lunar new year will be the year of the Rabbit. According to Dottie Li, cross-cultural expert and the voice of Rosetta Stone’s Mandarin products, the year symbolizes “longevity, positivity, auspiciousness, wittiness, cautiousness, cleverness, deftness, and self-protection.” To stay healthy during this Lunar Year, the east Asian tradition reminds people to be wary of past illnesses returning, to encourage frequent check-ups, and to lead a healthier lifestyle characterized by good eating habits. Sounds like a plan for any IBS individual!

Enjoying the Lunar holiday with food

Families usually celebrate the Lunar New Year with a big feast surrounded by foods that represent a bountiful year. Luckily for those with IBS, there is plenty of food items to choose from! Below is a list that can help ring in the Lunar New Year.

  • Steamed fish is often on the menu at many homes and is perfectly safe for IBS, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The fish symbolizes abundance and prosperity. To make sure the fish brings in wealth and success, there will always be leftovers of this dish.

  • Dumplings for the Lunar New Year are made to look like Chinese silver bars. According to the new year lore, the more dumplings and spring rolls one eats, the more money is in the future. The good news is that dumpling skins and wonton wrappers are low FODMAP, so most IBS readers can indulge a bit.

  • Tangyuan (tong-rhen) is a sweet rice ball and symbolizes family reunions. Like dumplings, tangyuan can be eaten without IBS flare-ups.

  • Tangerines and oranges are eaten during the new year because they are round, which represents harmony and balance. The gold color ties back to the idea of wealth. Pomelos is another citrus fruit that’s often eaten during the New Year celebrations. However, unlike tangerines and oranges, IBS Life readers should avoid the grapefruit-like fruit because of where it falls in the FODMAP guide.

  • The “chi” in chicken sounds similar to ji, which means good luck and prosperity. In Asian traditions, it’s important to serve the bird whole – head and feet included — to reinforce the belief of unity and wholeness. Since chicken is high in protein and does not contain carbohydrates, it’s a great IBS staple.

  • Noodles have always been linked to longevity or long life. Rice sticks, kelp, or soba noodles are low FODMAP ingredients. However, it’s important to stay within the recommended serving size. Visit FODMAP Everyday to learn more about serving size.

The Lantern Festival marks the end of celebrations

On the 15th day of the Lunar New Year is the beginning of the Lantern Festival. Local Chinese communities celebrate with dragon or lion dances, lantern riddles, moon gazing, stilts performances, and the lighting of the lanterns.

The lanterns take on multiple meanings, such as letting go of the past, reunions, future hopes and aspiration, or well-wishes to newlyweds. Now, many use the lanterns to recognize the new year. The celebrations provide people the time to reflect and learn from the past.

Here at IBS Life, we wish you all a bountiful Lunar New Year. Light a lantern for us!


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