Tips and hints to help you deal with IBS

I recently did a facebook post for a business on IBS and thought I might take this opportunity to share the same tips with my followers.

If you have IBS or know someone who does here are a few tips that may help to deal with this condition.

The Mayo Clinic defines Irritable Bowel Syndrome as a common chronic gastrointestinal condition that commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Mayo Clinic’s definition exclusively says large intestine, I’ve seen it listed as both way so I prefer to say gastrointestinal condition.

1. Take the time to eat. We know your body needs food but it is also important to take the time to eat your food. Chew your food well. Try to relax at meal times and not always eat on the go. This small step can make a big difference!

2. Keep a food and symptom journal (an ongoing note of what you eat and the symptoms you experience). You may notice patterns that will help you choose foods or beverages to avoid.

3. Different foods bother different people but some common trigger foods for IBS sufferers are caffeine, alcohol, deep fried foods, and gas creating foods such as beans, peas, cabbage, onions, cauliflower and sprouts.

4. Does lactose bother you? Try a low lactose milk to see if your symptoms improve.

5. Decrease swallowed air. This means limit carbonated beverages (pop, beer) taking your time to eat and trying not to use a straw.

6. Manage your stress. Find ways to relax and to manage your stress appropriately, stress can flare up IBS symptoms.

Diarrhea can frequently occur in IBS sufferers one tip that helps some people is to eat more soluble fiber during these flare ups. Soluble fibre absorbs water and creates a gel-like substance in your gut slowing down digestion. Soluble fibre is found in dried peas and beans, apples, sweet potatoes, oat bran and psyllium husks. For more information on soluble fiber click here.

Constipation can also frequently occur in those who have IBS. Consuming enough fiber, water and being physically active every day can all help with constipation. Adding fiber to the diet quickly can cause discomfort so be sure to add a little fiber to your diet each day if you’re working on increasing how much you eat. Whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are all great sources of fiber. Wheat bran is inexpensive and high in fiber, it can help many people manage their constipation but it’s important to remember that IBS is a very individual syndrome. Everyone reacts differently to foods, listen to your body, you know it best. See more here.

Limiting foods that are high in FODMAPS can be useful for some people who have IBS. Following a low FODMAP diet may make you feel like you’re on a restrictive diet so I recommend talking to a dietitian before committing to a low FODMAP diet trial to make sure it is the right decision for you. The diet was created to be followed for SIX TO EIGHT weeks, not a lifetime. After this period of time foods are reintroduced back into the diet to see what foods trigger IBS symptoms for the individual. FODMAPS can be a mouthful and to read what they actually are is even more intimidating so I’ve left it up to another Registered Dietitian to tell you about it here.

If you feel your diet is restricted or your symptoms aren’t controlled visit your family physician to discuss IBS further or to discuss a referral to a Registered Dietitian.

Check out my recipes here for help with cooking your next IBS friendly meal.

For more information I’ve added some links that I’ve used before when counselling clients with IBS. (Provides materials in many languages)

**This post is meant for general knowledge and not written to diagnose or treat medical issues but to be used as a guideline. Please visit a Registered Dietitian or Physician if you believe you have IBS or you have further questions about your own medical care.**

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