If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you might be wondering if you can do anything to alleviate some of the pain you feel after eating, and I’m here to tell you YES! There are some things you can cut out of your diet, or at least cut back on, that will help you get rid of those feelings of abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea (or, sometimes, alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea), and bloating.
Some of you write to me and ask, “Henry, these are my symptoms, do I have IBS?” Well, as I tell you when I respond, only a doctor can diagnose, but if you have the symptoms I’ve listed above, you may have IBS. If they occur right after eating, then it is a likely assumption, but again, only a doctor can tell you for sure.
That being said, I’m going to let you in on a few tips and diet alternations you can make that might bring you some relief. For example, did you know that cutting out the caffeine in your diet is a key to helping get rid of these feelings of discomfort? Yep. I know, if you are a fervent coffee drinker, you’re shaking your head at me right now, but cutting back on, or getting rid of caffeine all together is one thing that will help alleviate IBS pain.
Other changes include cutting out alcohol, milk products, any foods high in sugar, fatty foods, gas producing foods such as beans, cabbage or broccoli, and artificial sweeteners. We’ve already been over the dangers of artificial sweeteners, and here is yet another reason to get rid of them once and for all!
I know, now you want to know why, why can’t you have milk or beans? Well, these foods are all in the food categories that are labeled GI stimulants (irritants). And these irritants can cause violent reactions of your gastrocolic reflex. That reaction will directly affect the muscles in your colon and that can lead to IBS pain, constipation and diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
You should also add fiber to your diet, but it should be soluble fiber, as insoluble fiber can aggravate IBS. Soluble fiber will increase the ‘good’ bacteria in your body, ward off diarrhea and help to combat constipation. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as plums, citrus fruits, pears, prunes, psyllium seeds, oatmeal, carrots, lentils, and peas.
Make sure to drink lots of water when you add fiber to your diet, as well.
Another tip from doctors to patients with IBS is to eat in a calm, relaxing place. No stressors at dinner! Maybe eat without the TV tuned to the daily news…
1) Rhodes, Monica. (2008). “Irritable bowel syndrome: Controlling symptoms with diet.” Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/controlling-irritable-bowel-syndrome-with-diet
2) Vorous, Heahter. (2010). “Irritable Bowel Syndrome & IBS Recipes.” Retrieved from http://www.helpforibs.com/diet/