You SHOULD sweat the small stuff in managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Often, making a very small change to your diet can have a big impact on your IBS symptoms. While ‘drink more water’ or ‘eat regular meals’ may not be some of the most exciting pieces of advice you have ever heard – they may be some of the most useful tips you’ll get in reducing your IBS symptoms.
This is what we call ‘First Line Advice’ in IBS treatment.
For some people, taking on the below tips will result in complete management of IBS symptoms, while for others, it will be less helpful, or they may already follow much of it. Whether you continue on to do the low-FODMAPs elimination diet or not, the following advice is essential in ensuring a healthy gut, especially if suffering from the debilitating symptoms of IBS.
First Line Advice for IBS:
- Have regular meals and avoid very large meals, particularly at night.
- Monitor your caffeine intake and reduce if necessary – particularly if IBS-D (diarrhoea predominant).
- Limit alcohol intake – particularly if IBS-D (diarrhoea predominant) to no more than 2 standard drinks per day with at least 2 alcohol free days/week.
- Limit spicy foods if sensitive.
- Monitor intake of fatty foods, and reduce if intake is high.
- Drink plenty of fluids – spread across the day, not all at once. Sipping warm water of a morning may assist.
- Avoid sugar-free mints and gum.
- Trial a probiotic if desired – no current evidence to suggest which is best, choose an IBS but do it for at least 1 month to notice a difference.
- Monitor types of fibre – insoluble VS soluble and adjust intake accordingly. E.g. if you are IBS-D (Diarrhoea predominant) increasing insoluble fibre is not a good idea, while if you are IBS-C (Constipation predominant), insoluble fibre can act a bit like a broom to help get your bowel moving.
- Keep a symptom and bowel diary to recognise a pattern. If you choose to see a dietitian – this will help them too!
- Manage stress! The mind-gut connection is SO important.
- Exercise – even walking can help your gut get moving, and benefit your mind too.
Don’t expect results to be immediate. It can take time for IBS symptoms to improve.
If you suspect you have IBS and haven’t yet sought help, see a doctor and/or dietitian who specialises in IBS treatment. If you have seen your doctor and eliminated any other potential causes for your IBS symptoms, you may even like to get involved in the next round of the FODMAP Challenge.
By: Ellie Wiltshire
Image sourced from Pinterest