Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Knowing what foods to avoid can be just as crucial to your comfort as knowing what foods to eat if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). And if you are one of the 10–15% of Americans who have IBS, then this article is for you.
There are several different subgroups of IBS, and many people with the condition react to foods differently as well. For instance, dairy products may upset the stomach and bowel movements of someone with IBS-D (with diarrhea) or with IBS and lactose intolerance, while dairy may be helpful for bowel regulation for someone with IBS-C (with constipation).
Although building a bowel-friendly diet is an individualistic process that requires a lot of careful personalization—trying things out and keeping track of how well they work for your symptoms—there are a few general tips that may help many people with IBS dietary management.
Steer Clear of the Key IBS Aggravators
Pick your fiber carefully. Insoluble fiber (found in grains) means bulky, undigested matter goes in one end and out the other. Although it may help relieve constipation, it can cause bloating. The gluten in grain products (like bread and pizza) may also be bad news for people with Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, since as many as half of the Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome population may have a gluten sensitivity as well. Opt for gluten-free grains and focus on soluble fiber, which can be found in veggies and fruits.
Minimize fatty, fried foods. Do people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome need to remove all deliciousness from the diet? No. However, it is wise to minimize foods with high fat content—and fried foods (like French fries, chips, and lots of bar food) tend to top the list of fatty goodness. Instead of totally eliminating some of these foods, try trading them for less fatty versions. For instance, try baked sweet potato wedges, grilled fish, or broiled stuffed mushroom appetizers.
Beans, beans, the (not so) magical fruit… Whether or not you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know how the story ends when beans are involved in meals. Gassiness, bloating, cramps, and frequent bathroom trips can be a common aftereffect of beans. As such, most people with Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome can enjoy a Mexican meal, chili, or side dish quite a bit more when beans aren’t involved.
Caffeine is your newest “frienemy.” Unless irregularity and constipation are your primary Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome problems, caffeine is typically a no-no for those with Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It stimulates thinner bowel movements. Although you may hate to eliminate your traditional morning and mid-afternoon pick-me-ups in the cupboard, most people can wean themselves off of caffeine fairly quickly. Substitute cold water, herbal tea, or a brief stretch or walk for your standard cup of coffee.
Work with your doctor to create a manageable elimination diet for your Eating Smart with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This will involve cutting out a large number of foods simultaneously. You then add them back in one by one, observing your body’s reaction. Taking the time to try an elimination diet can really speed up the process of finding a diet that helps keep your IBS in check.
As painful as it can seem to cut a lot of these delectable foods from the diet, most people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome can find a happy medium that allows them to regulate their symptoms and their trips to the bathroom. Happy snacking!