Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a term given to a set of symptoms produced in the Gastro-Intestinal tract as a response to stress, certain foods, some bacteria or overactive muscles. The most common symptoms can be diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or spasms causing abdominal pain and /or distention.
There is no absolute cure for IBS, however, dietary care and lifestyle changes might help with controlling the symptoms. In honor of the IBS Awareness Month, here are Right Bite’s top tips for managing IBS:
1. Keep a diary where you note your emotions, food or activity to be able to pinpoint the reason behind the symptoms. Once the reason is known, then you can proactively eliminate some of the symptom triggers.
2. If symptoms are food-related, start by eliminating the food item for few days, re-assess symptoms, reintroduce and evaluate again.
3. Aim to have small but frequent meals at almost the same times every day. Large meals will be harder to digest and can cause cramping and diarrhea.
4. Stay away from fatty food items. These seem to be the most common IBS trigger food.
5. Never skip meals & always start your day with a healthy breakfast. Skipping meals can cause contractions and excessive gas in the stomach for IBS patients.
6. Quench your thirst with at least 2 liters of water a day (8 cups) or as otherwise directed by your physician. Water helps in colonic motility and therefore helps relieve constipation. Additionally, drinking enough water will keep your body well-hydrated, especially after fluid-loss due to diarrhea.
7. Get active at least for 150 minutes every week. Exercise helps in proper intestinal motility.
8. Have a good night’s sleep. This will help regulate your hormones and relieve stress and therefore alleviate symptoms.
9. Seek medical attention & the help of a dietitian. This way you will get a meal plan that is inclusive of healthy and nutritious food items to replace those IBS trigger foods.
Although the meal plans for people suffering from IBS is individualized, here is a guide to help you in managing the symptoms
Fruits & Vegetables: Avoid food items that might produce gas & indigestion such as cabbage, onions, apple, artichokes, mango & watermelon.
Dairy products: Avoid cow’s milk, yogurt & yellow cheeses; instead, have more lactose free milk
Grains & Seeds: Avoid legumes such as peas, beans, chickpeas and limit wheat products. Try to choose more gluten-free or wheat-free items instead.
Additionally, limit alcoholic beverages, juices and items that are high in simple sugars as they might also trigger your symptoms.
Just keep in mind that a meal plan for IBS is not one of deprivation or promoting fear of food. With the correct help and dietary manipulation, you can always enjoy meal times.