IBS symptoms can interfere with everyday life and for some, the thought of participating in sports after IBS diagnosis can be very scary. Stress itself can worsen IBS symptoms, however, exercise is a great tool for stress management and if playing team sports allows for building on those important social supports. In fact, the British Dietetic Association recommends regular exercise as part of IBS management.
Here are 4 ways you can manage the symptoms, reduce that stress and enjoy playing the sports you love!
1. Time your meals
Try to consume your main meals around 3-4 hours before participating in physical activity. This can help reduce feelings of bloating and allow time for your food to digest. Give this cucumber soba noodles recipe a try for a great pre-workout meal.
2. Plan your meals
A small snack around 1-2 hours before your workout can help better fuel your workout and support your performance. Try this banana and peanut butter smoothie for a quick and easy snack.
There’s a reason why 1/2 time oranges are a thing, they’re a great source of carbohydrates giving you a quick boost of energy whilst quenching your thirst.
3. Be beverage smart
Water is the best drink of choice for most sports. Staying hydrated throughout the day prior to participating in sports is equally important as staying hydrated during the game. Limit sugary drinks such as fruit juice, soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks. Due to the sugar content of these drinks, they pull more water into the gut which can cause diarrhoea. Caffeine has been suggested to improve sports performance however, caffeine can worsen IBS symptoms in some people. The key is to test everything in training before a game, so you know your gut can tolerate it. Gameday isn’t the day to try out that new sports drink or to trial a higher caffeine intake.
4. Start a conversation
Talk to your coach and let them know that you may require a few more breaks than your fellow teammates. This may be a little daunting to some but remember, your coach is there to support you! Communicating with your coach will allow them to help understand your needs allowing them to help get the best results for yourself and the team. This might help to relieve some of that stress as well. Be brave.