What is IBS?
Agonizing stomach pain. Constipation. Irritating Diarrhea. Bothersome bloating. Cramping. Gas. Oh, and don’t forget the “I need a toilet, NOW”. If any of these words brought back painful memories that you wish to forget, you aren’t alone. However, if this describes your current situation, day after day, week after week, month after month, you may be struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). For those with IBS, you aren’t alone. This syndrome affects more than 10% of the population. IBS is not a disease, rather a variety of bothersome symptoms.
There may be a variety of causes for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is not well known as to what may be the actual cause. However, IBS may accompany other diagnosis such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, TMJ syndrome, or food allergies. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that there are a few things that can intensify the symptoms. The best way to treat and prevent the triggering of symptoms is to live a healthy lifestyle. This can include managing stress, eating a healthy diet and exercising. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains more the causes and triggers here.
Odds are, there is someone and even multiple people you may know that suffer from these symptoms. Maybe it’s you. Support a loved one by giving them a listening ear to understand what might be going on. Refer them to a dietitian to help figure out how they can manage their symptoms. Check out this graphic from aboutibs.org to understand some of the statistics and facts. Let’s spend the month of April being aware of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and those feeling the effects of this diagnosis.
Dietitian’s Recommendations for IBS
Recommendations for IBS are guided by the individuals symptoms. This is why it is important to meet with a dietitian to get the guidance you need for your specific symptoms. It is important to decrease anxiety, manage stress, and balance your lifestyle. The main nutrition-related recommendation for IBS patients is to consume small, regular, fiber-rich meals. You may also work with you dietitian on the low-FODMAP diet. Find out more about the FODMAP diet here. Be sure to work with a dietitian if you’re thinking about the low-FODMAP diet so that it can benefit you fully as you identify “triggering” foods.
Dietitians also recommend drinking more water. Avoiding caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and soda to alleviate symptoms. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can potentially cause diarrhea. Also avoid carbonation as it may cause gas. Be aware of diet sodas as they may contain a lot of artificial sweeteners that cannot be digested, causing gas.
When making the changes in your life for a better diet, be sure to do it slowly with the guidance of a RDN. Making the transitions too quickly can cause even more symptoms. Here is a list of some IBS-friendly foods to include in your diet:
- Whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice
- Fresh fruits
In conclusion, remember that these recommendations are not for everyone. We all are different, and each person with IBS may have different recommendations and needs. Say goodbye to that urgent diarrhea, constipation, and pain by scheduling an appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) today to help support you in getting your IBS on track.
Written by Britney Giles, the nutrition coordinator at Anderson’s Nutrition and nutrition/dietetics student. Set up a 15 minute phone call with Britney to see what we can offer you on your healthy lifestyle journey.
Click the above link to also set an appointment with one of our dietitians who can help you to manage your symptoms.