Aug 13, 2015 1:00 PM

Author: Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC


Diet hacks to manage your IBS

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. You had the best dinner with friends and family, but on the way home—the worst disaster struck.

Unfortunately, times like these may happen more often than could possibly be a case of food poisoning or an allergic reaction. Regular experiences like this may be the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS).

Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Symptoms

Just in case you aren’t quite sure what the symptoms of IBS are, here’s a short list:

  • Crampy abdominal pain
  • Gassiness
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Just one or more of those symptoms is enough to take the good times out of anyone’s day. Specialist Kathleen Boynton, MD, confirms: "Gastroenterology is looking seriously at the role of diet in all chronic diseases and what role it plays in therapy." It is possible, however, to manage some of these symptoms to a degree by adjusting your diet.

Crafting a Dietary Plan

Whether you have been diagnosed with IBS or not, becoming more aware what you eat can put you on the road to fewer pit stops (fingers crossed). Try using some of these strategies to better manage the symptoms of an irritable bowel:

  • Identify trigger foods - Keeping a food diary could help you remember what you ate before you experienced the bloat and diarrhea.
  • Experiment with meal sizes - Larger meals can trigger IBS, so try eating smaller meals more frequently.
  • Eat foods that are lower in fatparticularly animal fats - A lot of inflammatory chemicals are in fat, particularly animal fats. Cutting down the amount of fat in your diet will make it easier on your digestive tract.
  • Eat veggies and potatoes cooked with the skins removed – Cooked foods are easier for your digestive system to process, and nobody wants to eat their skins (or crusts) anyway.
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine – Alas, sacrifices must be made.
  • Avoid beans and eat dairy sparingly – You may be able to stomach some dairy products more easily than others. Beans, however, might be a risky proposition on the whole.
  • Avoid spicy foods or balance them with plain cereals, white rice, and refined pastas – Spice is not just hot on the tongue, it also delivers that zest to your digestive organs. You could, however, try smothering that spiciness with something blander, and maybe it will help you have your zest and eat it too.

See a Specialist

While all of these suggestions can help you manage your IBS, we also always recommend a visit to your doctor, particularly if your symptoms change or get worse. You may even want to see a gastroenterologist (specialist in digestive disorders) to get a better evaluation of those digestive organs and their juices.

Hopefully, however, with some changes to your diet and good management, you can bring back the best of times and reduce the distress of IBS.


Jen Brass Jenkins, MPC

Jen is the web content manager on the Interactive Marketing and Web Team. She manages content and projects working with clinical services, departments, and colleges across University of Utah Health Sciences. She also writes and edits many, many things. Find her on Twitter @chrlichaz.

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