The term IBS can strike fear into the hearts of even the most adventurous eaters and restaurant-goers, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you suffer from IBS, which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know how much your symptoms can interfere with normal day-to-day activities like eating out or going on vacation. The good news is, by following these ten tips, you’ll be able to enjoy a regular diet again and improve your quality of life in ways you never thought possible!
1. Focus on a Low-FODMAP Diet
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), following a low-FODMAP diet is crucial, which helps reduce your symptoms and allows you to enjoy healthier foods. A low-FODMAP diet limits your consumption of sugar carbohydrates with high content of poorly absorbed sugars. Such foods may cause intolerances and may include wheat and other grains, legumes, dairy products, many fruits and vegetables, food additives (e.g., artificial sweeteners), some fats and oils, alcohol, and others.
However, you may ask, what does fodmap stand for? FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates, which the body may be unable to break down during digestion because of the lack of an enzyme needed to break them down into more basic molecules like glucose. Instead, they reach the colon, where bacteria break them down and produce gas as a byproduct. That is the primary cause of abdominal pain and diarrhea associated with IBS.
2. Determine Your Threshold of Lactose
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar lactose. Eating or drinking lactose products will likely cause stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea if you are lactose intolerant. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. Instead of avoiding dairy products, you can carefully take small amounts to help establish your tolerance threshold. Try adding one tablespoon of cream cheese to your morning oatmeal.
By carefully determining your threshold, you can consume optimal amounts of yogurt or cheese without suffering from severe symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends choosing yogurts with at least 5 percent fat since these contain live bacteria cultures that may be slower to digest than those in non-fat or low-fat varieties.
3. Avoid Triggers
Certain foods can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea in people with IBS. It would help if you learned which foods are triggers to avoid these things when possible. That will help relieve some of the stress of wondering what will happen during or after eating. If you are fructose intolerant, it could take up to 24 hours before symptoms like stomach pain and cramping appear. So it’s best not to eat foods rich in fructose if you have IBS.
Fructose-rich foods include apples, mangoes, pears, peaches, nectarines, and plums. Honey also contains high levels of fructose, so read food labels carefully when buying processed food, such as bread and breakfast cereals. Alternative foods you can enjoy if you’ve fructose intolerance include honeydew melon, cherries, bananas, pineapples, and oranges. However, you should take these low-fructose fruits in moderation because too much consumption can lead to gut irritation.
4. Keep a Food Diary
A food diary is the best way to track what you’re eating, when you eat it, and how you feel after eating. Make a note of everything you eat for a few days. Keep in mind that your diet might change day-to-day. Record your food choices (time, place, quantity), any symptoms of digestive problems, and how you felt before and after the meal/snack. If you see patterns or notice triggers, take note. Once you identify a pattern or trigger, you must talk with your doctor about ways to manage them.
You can also adapt safe products such as foods sweetened with fructose-free sugar syrup, rice flour bread, gluten-free pasta, and cereals made from quinoa and buckwheat. For snacks, choose bananas over raisins; oatmeal cookies instead of chocolate chip cookies, hummus instead of peanut butter; and fruit leathers over fruit rollups.
5. Eat in Moderation and Bulk Up with Fibers and Probiotics
IBS can make eating healthy food difficult, but there are ways around it. You’ll need to eat less but ensure you still get plenty of fiber from low-FODMAP vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Increase your fluid intake as well – water, tea, or probiotics will do the trick.
Probiotics will help balance the bacteria in your gut and relieve constipation while relieving bloating, gas, diarrhea, and pain associated with IBS. Balancing the intestinal flora is possible by taking probiotics that helps reduce digestive discomfort (such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea) by regulating the production of enzymes involved in digestion.
Even though you may have IBS, you can still find ways to enjoy healthy food. You may consider taking probiotics such as yogurt or kombucha tea. A high-fiber diet may also help alleviate symptoms. Eating smaller meals and limiting caffeine or spicy foods can also be helpful. You can also enjoy sweetness even with fructose intolerance by consuming products sweetened with fructose-free glucose syrup. It is important not to let your condition get in the way of living a happy and fulfilling life!