Pool parties, cook outs, and fun in the sun—summer is officially upon us. Most of us look forward to the season but for people with IBD, summer can be a little trickier to navigate. As someone living with Crohn’s disease, I understand the need to tweak your routine in order to enjoy the summer season.

Here are some tips to use to best enjoy the summer when you have IBD.

Summer wellness means planning ahead. Laptop computer, notepad, smartphone, sun protection laid out on a table getting organized1. Be prepared for anything.

Whether you’re going to the beach, a friend’s pool, or hitting up a roof top party, do your research ahead of time. If you’re going to a beach, do a quick online search via Google Maps to get a sense of your surroundings. Are there bathrooms on the boardwalk? Do you spot nearby restaurants or other businesses that you might be able to use in an emergency? If you’re visiting a friend’s party, can you ask them to use their personal bathroom in case of an emergency? Another pro tip: When you arrive at your destination, use the bathroom right away so you know where it’s located—as well as to avoid an emergency bathroom trip later.

Next, think food. Will you have to bring your own food to the party, or can you ask the host to stock a few items for you? Worst case scenario: Is there a nearby spot to grab some good-for-you food? You’ll likely be able to find water, but you might want to also pack your own refillable bottle, just in case.

Get all the details before you go anywhere—so you can be prepared for anything.

Letting friends know about IBD and symptoms helps your summer wellness; friends talking outdoors on a deck.2. Loop in the right people.

“Be your own advocate. People cannot support you when they are not aware of what you are going through,” says Courtney Schmidt (Instagram: @selfiec; Twitter: @SelfieC), 21, Corona, California, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) in 2015.

If you don’t want to let all of your friends know, reach out to the host and let them know you might:

  • Have to use the bathroom for longer periods of time
  • Need a place to rest for a little bit
  • Have certain dietary restrictions and can bring your own food if necessary

“You’ll be very surprised at how accommodating others can be when they’re aware of what you’re going through. Ask for help because none of us can do this alone,” adds the Corona, California resident.

Staying hydrated is key to your summer wellness; one person drinks water while friends drink wine 3. Keep cool and quench your thirst.

If you’re skimping on water while in the heat, you may put yourself at risk for dehydration. While the signs of dehydration might vary depending on age, some common signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe thirst
  • Infrequent urination

“If I start overheating, I’ll feel my stress and anxiety levels increasing. I also experience worsened symptoms,” says Natasha Osmond, 29, an IBD advocate who lives in Edmonton, Canada. To stay hydrated, Osmond mixes up a few refreshing mocktails. “Cold drinks make me feel better, so sometimes I drink tart cherry juice with ice. It looks exactly like red wine and people think you are drinking with them, but you are not.”

If you notice you’re overheating, you may feel better if you:

  • Drink some water—remember most adults need about 2 ½ liters for women and about 3 ½ liters for men each day
  • Snack on some water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumbers, or strawberries
  • Move into the shade, or indoors with air conditioning

Women wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing at the beach 4. Wear loose-fitting clothes.

If you’re planning on a long day at a cookout, picnic or some other summer outing, you’ll want to avoid wearing tight clothing. I’ve noticed the longer I sit in tight clothes, the more my stomach aches from being compressed. To stay most comfortable, I opt for loose-fitting clothing, or if I must wear something tight or uncomfortable, I pack a backup outfit.

Couple swimming in ocean, enjoying the outdoors Get outside and enjoy the season

Last but not least—have fun. Don’t let your disease keep you indoors throughout summer. Prepare yourself as best you can ahead of time and spend your time around people who care about you, and you’ll make some great summer memories.

Natalie Suppes

Natalie Suppes, Founder of For The Health—an online health and fitness coaching company working specifically with women who have IBD. She’s a Crohn’s and Colitis advocate, as well as a motivational speaker, personal trainer, and is currently in school for holistic nutrition. Suppes spent 12 years in an extreme Crohn’s flare while simultaneously climbing the corporate ladder. She decided to turn her pain into her purpose by opening up For The Health and by doing so has helped thousands of women become the healthiest versions of themselves. Her passion is helping women who are chronically ill with IBD take their lives back, and not let the disease take over.

Oshi is a tracking tool and content resource. It does not render medical advice or services, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always review this information with your healthcare professionals.