Finding Workable Solutions for IBS
Having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be challenging, but with effort, you can maintain a high quality of life. Experimenting with your diet and making some simple changes in your lifestyle can provide relief. It’s important to look ahead and set long-term goals instead of looking for a “quick fix.” With a little patience and planning, you can ease your body into a workable solution.
Keep a Food Diary
This is a good way to track the foods that cause you symptoms. Track your “trigger foods,” such as alcohol, caffeine, dairy products and/or sugar-free sweeteners. Other foods that can cause problems may include “gassy” vegetables like beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Chewing gum or drinking through a straw can cause gas if you swallow air. Write every occurrence in the diary, and then you can avoid those foods and report to your doctor.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Skipping meals stimulates stomach acid. It’s much better to eat small, frequent meals to keep your bowels regular and help prevent diarrhea. If you are constipated, you can boost your fiber intake, but be mindful, because too much can irritate your bowels.
The benefits of exercise include relieving depression, stress, boosting endorphins and stimulating contractions of your intestines. As an added bonus, it helps you feel better about yourself. If you’ve been inactive, start slow and increase gradually. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Drink plenty of water every day. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages stimulate the intestines, which can make diarrhea worse. Carbonated beverages produce gas, so plain water is best.
Be Mindful with Fiber
When you have IBS, you have to be mindful with fiber. Fiber reduces constipation, but it can worsen gas and cramping. The mindful approach is to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet over several weeks. Include your intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Track signs and symptoms in your food diary so you can report them to your doctor.
Consult an Expert
Feel free to talk to a dietitian.? He or she can help set you up with an IBS diet that best suits your specific needs.
Be Wary of Dairy
Just like with meals, consume small amounts of dairy or combine dairy products with other foods. Depending on how dairy affects your IBS, you may need to eliminate it entirely. If so, take vitamin B supplements, and eat your vegetables rich in calcium and get protein from other sources.