Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be a challenge that is not understood by many. Depending on the severity, common daily occurrences such as going to work, shopping or having social outings may feel overwhelming and leave you feeling stressed, anxious and hopeless. While the exact cause and cure of IBS are unknown, there are a few ways to manage your IBS and give you back the quality of life you deserve.
Keep a Food Journal
Start becoming aware and documenting what foods you eat. If symptoms occur, write down what you ate that day. By noting down what foods you are eating will help you identify a pattern and assist you in managing the triggers of your IBS.
Start a Routine
Start a routine and schedule your meals at similar times each day to keep your bowel function regular. If you are attending social outings, such as lunch or dinner, try organizing the time to be around the same time as your routine.
Keep an IBS Survival Kit on You
Always be prepared. Accidents do happen and having necessities may help reduce the stress and anxiety of going out. Keep the following on hand:
- Change of underwear/clothes
- Wet wipes
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Imodium (Only if recommended by a physician)
With the help of your food journal, eating a well-balanced diet may relieve some triggers. Eat a sufficient amount of fiber every day to alleviate constipation. While the number may vary with each condition, it is recommended to eat about 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. If you are planning on having a social meal at a restaurant, order plain foods that are less likely to trigger your symptoms such as steamed vegetables, sweet potato, and chicken breasts. If your condition is severe bring along your own food, it is not uncommon to do so, many people have food restrictions and prepare their own meals for a social gathering.
What Foods to Avoid
Certain foods may trigger or worsen symptoms of IBS. Prevent an episode or accident by avoiding these foods:
- Raw fruits
- Spicy foods
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to keep you hydrated. You can also drink caffeine-free beverages or lactose-free milk such as almond or rice milk.
Take Probiotics Daily
Probiotics are found naturally in yogurt, however, avoid the dairy and use a supplement alternative. Probiotics are healthy bacteria and may help alleviate symptoms of IBS.
Easier said than done, right? Stress is one of the contributing factors in triggering IBS symptoms. Build a support network around you and let your loved ones know that you are experiencing these symptoms. Try not let stress get in the way of going out with your family. Look after yourself and talk to someone you are comfortable with or a therapist when dealing with symptoms become too much to handle.