Eating for IBS: 6 Diets That Might Help

Which IBS Diet Is Right for You?

Dieting isn’t exclusively for those who are trying to lose weight. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eating whatever you want without thought will only amplify your symptoms.

Nothing ruins a delicious meal faster than the IBS onset where you find yourself on the couch hugging a hot water bottle against your stomach.

If you’re unfamiliar with IBS, it is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects you during digestion. IBS can distress you with a few different symptoms. It manifests itself in abdominal pain, bloating/distension, and a change in appearance or frequency of stool.

Diagnosed patients suffer from IBS for at least four days per month, but the number of days can be much more than that.

Your first line of defense with dietary management should be living a healthier lifestyle, which includes:

  • Small changes that can make a difference are minimizing or removing alcohol, fat, caffeine, spicy foods and insoluble fibers from your diet.
  • Make sure you keep a water bottle handy so that you can stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Do what you can to eat on a regular schedule – smaller meals more often are best.
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly, so your digestive system doesn’t have to work harder to break down food.
  • Avoid large portions, skipping meals, eating too late at night, or going long periods of time between meals. Consistency with mealtime is your best friend.

Below are some suggested IBS diets; be sure to speak with your healthcare professional about which one suits you the best.

Gluten-Free Diet

It’s possible that the symptoms you suffer from aren’t IBS, but instead a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. The silver lining for those trying a gluten-free diet is that we live in a time where gluten is a high-profile topic, so gluten-free options are becoming more plentiful.

Most foods that are gluten-free will boast this quality on their packaging. The gluten protein is found in grain products, so you’ll undoubtedly need to swap out your bread and pasta for gluten-free alternatives.

High-Fiber Diet (Insoluble Fiber Diet)

Fiber is a point of contention with IBS. The idea behind this diet is to up your intake of fiber-rich foods to aid in the movement of your stools (as well as control your pH balance in the intestines).

More fiber adds bulk and increases flow and helps prevent constipation. Be sure to add more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.

Insoluble fibers are found in foods like nuts, broccoli, cabbage, guava, banana, bran cereal, and most beans.

Low-Fiber Diet (Soluble Fiber Diet)

The pendulum swing of a high-fiber diet is that you may experience bloating, gas, or diarrhea from the fiber – if this is the case, try to ingest soluble fibers instead. This kind of fiber dissolves in water and doesn’t add additional bulk to your stools.

Soluble fiber binds to fatty acids, which extend the stomach emptying time. The sugars are released from your stomach and absorbed by the body slower, which helps you regulate your blood sugar and helps control your cholesterol.

Soluble fibers can be found in legumes, tofu, dried figs, citrus fruits, oatmeal, flaxseed and vegetables like brussels sprouts, avocado, or turnips.

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Elimination Diet

The overall idea of elimination diet is to remove certain foods from your diet that could contribute to your IBS and see how your body fares without them. The trial period should be long enough to see if there are any long-term effects of removing such a food.

Compile a list of suspects and spend several weeks removing one at a time from your diet to see if your symptoms improve. It is recommended by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) that you cut out coffee, chocolate, insoluble fiber and nuts first.

Low-Fat Diet

Low-fat doesn’t have to mean food has to have no flavor or no fun. This diet is good for your overall health and also benefits those suffering from obesity and heart issues.

Fatty foods obstruct your stools and may worsen your IBS symptoms. High-fat foods are typically low in fiber.

Cut out the fried foods and fats and steer your diet toward lean meats, fruits, vegetables, grains and low-fat dairy products.

Low FODMAP Diet

An important thing to note about this diet is that it should only be undertaken with the support and direction of your physician to ensure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients.

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols; essentially this means carbohydrates that are difficult for the intestines to digest.

Taking a time out from high FODMAP foods for 6-8 weeks may improve your IBS symptoms.

High FODMAP foods include lactose, legumes, high-fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, wheat-based bread, cereals and pasta, and certain fruits and vegetables.

The Bottom Line…

Don’t ignore your digestive sensitivity. A few tweaks to your diet could be all the difference in avoiding or minimizing your IBS symptoms.

No matter what your diet restrictions are, you will be able to find delicious recipes to keep you feeling satisfied and avoid the ritual of the hot water bottle on the couch after dinner.

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