Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the large intestine. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits. While the exact cause of IBS is not known, it is believed that a combination of factors, including diet, can play a role in the development and management of symptoms.
In this article, we will discuss what to eat when IBS flares up and how to manage symptoms through diet.
Understanding the Triggers of IBS Flares
When it comes to managing IBS symptoms through diet, it’s important to understand what triggers them in the first place. Some people may find that certain foods or drinks trigger their IBS symptoms, while others may be triggered by stress or other factors.
Keeping a food diary can be helpful in identifying which foods may trigger symptoms. In the diary, you should record what you eat, when you eat it, and any symptoms you experience. After a few weeks, you will be able to identify patterns and pinpoint which foods may be causing problems.
It’s important to note that some triggers may be different for each person, and some food might be more tolerable to some than others.
It’s also worth noting that people with IBS might have food intolerance or allergies, so please consult with a medical expert before making any changes on your diet.
Foods to eat when IBS flares up
When IBS flares up, it can be helpful to focus on foods that are easy to digest and gentle on the gut.
High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are great choices as they provide bulk and help promote regular bowel movements. However, it’s important to note that for some people, particularly those with diarrhea-predominant IBS, a low-FODMAP diet may be recommended.
Fruits and vegetables that are easy to digest include cooked vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, cooked or canned fruits, and cooked grains like rice, oats and quinoa.
Probiotics can also be beneficial for managing IBS symptoms, as they help to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
Foods to avoid when IBS flares up
Certain foods can be particularly hard on the gut and should be avoided or limited when IBS flares up. These include beans, lentils, cruciferous vegetables, and fatty foods.
Caffeine is also known to be a trigger for some people with IBS. If you find that caffeine makes your symptoms worse, it’s best to avoid or limit it. Some people also find that artificial sweeteners like sugar alcohols and saccharin may also trigger symptoms.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are general suggestions, and each person’s triggers may be different. So it’s best to consult with a medical expert before making any changes to your diet, especially if you have IBS.
Tips for managing IBS flares
Diet is just one aspect of managing IBS flares, there are other tips you can use to help alleviate symptoms. One way to help manage IBS flares is by reducing stress. Stress can exacerbate symptoms, so it’s important to find ways to relax and manage stress, such as through exercise, yoga, meditation or other techniques.
It’s also important to make sure to drink enough water, dehydration can cause constipation and worsen IBS symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help to make eating more comfortable, as large meals can cause bloating and discomfort.
It’s also recommended to work with a healthcare provider, such as a registered dietitian or a gastroenterologist, to create a personalized dietary plan that works for you.
IBS can be a challenging condition to manage, but diet plays a significant role in managing symptoms. By understanding your triggers and choosing foods that are easy to digest and gentle on the gut, you can help to alleviate symptoms.
It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to create a personalized dietary plan and to take steps to manage stress and stay hydrated. Remember that what works for one person may not work for another and it’s important to be patient, persistent and consult with a medical expert before making any changes to your diet.
With the right dietary approach, managing IBS can become more manageable, and you can take control of your symptoms.
Barbara Weiss is a highly accomplished health expert with over 20 years of experience in the field. She is a certified physician assistant and a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Academy of Physician Assistants.