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Interstitial Cystitis and Holidays: An Expert’s Guide To Preventing Flare-Ups

Updated: Jul 30, 2023


Sometimes it is really hard to feel the holiday spirit when you have Interstitial Cystitis. Maybe it’s the family favorite dishes that you are missing out on? Or all those relatives nitpicking at your food intolerances?

With a little bit of proper planning neither of these horror situations need to happen. First and foremost you can be prepared by planning ahead, focusing on what you can eat, and creating new traditions.

Plan Ahead

Obviously hosting your family and friends is the optimal choice to make a bladder friendly holiday. But let’s be realistic, all that party planning, cooking and stress can be counterproductive. If you do choose to be the host, allow others to help you with the cooking and cleaning. Many dishes can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to use disposable plates and utensils!

Make the focus on time spent with loved ones and not the presentation. This will put everyone at ease, including yourself. It is the time spent together that is remembered the most - NOT the food or the centerpiece!

If you are invited to a party or dinner at a friend or relative’s house, here are a couple tips. Please remember that the foods you choose to eat are none of anyone’s business but your own. Try not to let well-meaning relatives or friends go overboard with their concerns by being proactive.

Reach out to your host with a friendly phone call, or message. Depending on your relationship with the host, you can keep this short and simple or be a bit more extensive and ask for some dietary requests.

Here is a sample note:

“Thank you so much for inviting me to_____ holiday. I am really looking forward to celebrating with you. On a private note, I want to share with you that I have a medical condition that requires me to be very selective in the foods that I eat. I am disappointed that I won’t be able to try all the delicious dishes you are preparing BUT I would love to bring a couple dishes to share.”

You can leave this note as vague as you wish. YES, you can choose to share your IC diagnosis or not. That is totally up to you. Allow your host to reach out for more information or with a desire to help by making IC friendly dishes.

We are here to help you and your host with numerous mocktail, appetizer and holiday favorite recipes in our collection of cookbooks. Or try the amazingly delicious recipes from the IC Mocktail and Party Appetizer Cookbook or the IC-Friendly Holiday Recipe Collection.

Offer to come to the party early to help with food prep or setting up. This will allow a bit of bonding time for you to talk personally to the hosts or your family about your food modifications. This can alleviate the stress of your medical condition being the topic of dinner conversation. Here, you can ask to take a look at the recipes so you can make your game plan about which foods to choose for your plate.

What you CAN eat

There are many party staples that are naturally bladder friendly choices!

Graphic of a table showing interstitial cystitis-friendly options for holiday meals

Create new traditions

Do your family and/or friends celebrate the holidays with cocktails? Or does the fun involve bottles of wine and cooking together? These common traditions can easily leave you feeling left out of the fun. Please know that it is totally OK to imbibe in moderation on the holiday. Be prepared to drink plenty of water and pop a prelief, if needed.

It is definitely fine to celebrate with your family sans alcohol. You should never feel left out of the fun. This year, host a mocktail making class for your loved ones! Show them how to make fun mocktails from the IC Friendly Mocktails and Party Apps Cookbook!

This could also be a great time to start new traditions with your friends and family. Go ice skating or for a holiday light viewing drive or walk. Table games are a great way to get the whole family involved in the fun. Try some old favorites like: Pictionary, Wits and Wagers, Heads Up or Charades.

Get more support

You are definitely not alone in feeling overwhelmed this holiday season. Unfortunately, most social media groups can often make you feel even more lost and confused. Want to join a caring community of IC warriors who support each other. The IC Collective is a monthly membership that was designed for those who want a private, caring community to ask questions, share thoughts and get support. This community is supported by Callie Krajcir, a Registered Dietitian specializing in IC who will answer your specific questions on a weekly basis. Monthly Master classes are provided by experts in the field.

Master class schedule:

November: Navigating The Holidays With IC

December: Flare Management

January: Supplements for IC

February: Sex & Relationships with IC

The best part about The IC Collective is upon joining, you not only get access to the current month's Master class, but you also have on-demand access to previous classes.

Cost: $37/month*

*Increasing to $57/month on January 1, 2023.


These delicious holiday recipes will leave everyone asking for more…

Pumpkin Maple Dip

Graphic showing a bladder-friendly pumpkin maple dip

Ready in 20 minutes

Serves: 8 people


  • 4oz package cream cheese

  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (if tolerated)

  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a food processor, combine a 4-oz. package (not tub) room temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (if tolerated), and a pinch of salt.

  2. Process until smooth.

  3. Place in a serving bowl.

  4. Serve with sliced Gala or Fuji apples, whole wheat bread (no preservatives), or graham crackers (if tolerated).

Sweet Potato Casserole

Graphic showing a bladder-friendly sweet potato casserole

Yield: 6-8 servings

Time: 60 min



  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish

  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes

  • ½ cup milk

  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 large eggs


  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed

  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¾ cup chopped pecans


  1. For the sweet potatoes: Add 1 3/4 pounds peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash the sweet potatoes.

  2. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

  3. Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

  4. For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Holiday Eggnog

Graphic of a bladder-friendly eggnog


● 2 pasteurized egg yolks

● 2 cups whole milk

● 3 Tbsp sugar or honey

● 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract

● 2 Tbsp whipping cream


Puree ingredients in a blender until creamy and thick. Serve in 4 small glasses - this is rich!

*Use pasteurized eggs for safety.

And Most Importantly, Enjoy Yourself!

It can feel difficult to relax and enjoy the holidays this year. We hope the tips included in this post help you feel more confident in having conversations with loved ones and navigating food restrictions. Try your very best to have fun! Want more? Check out this episode of the IC You podcast where we dive into this topic even more in-depth!

Author: Beverly Leveque, RD

Editor: Callie Krajcir, RD

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