What To Eat During An IBS Attack?
IBS can be a debilitating syndrome, and if you struggle with it, you know how much your daily activities can be hindered by it.
And so you might be wondering, how can I get control of my IBS and if I do have an IBS attack, what can I do to help calm it down more quickly?
My name is Marcie Vaske, here at the Oswald Digestive Clinic, we work with all people who have constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, heartburn, or anything that relates to the digestive system.
So if this resonates with you or maybe someone you know, you can easily make an initial appointment with me or our other dietitian Katie.
But if you kind of like to do things on your own or just learn some more information about gut health, we have a great FREE GUIDE, which is Five Ways to Improve your Gut Health.
In conjunction with that, I also work with a lot of clients who struggle with hormone issues or even thyroid issues, blood sugar management, all of that kind of thing. And it all kind of comes back to how healthy is your gut.
What is IBS?
IBS is called irritable bowel syndrome, and it is one of the most common gastrointestinal syndromes around and it's commonly, you'll find symptoms that are abdominal pain, constipation, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, and those are just a few actually of the symptoms that you might have just from IBS.
But so many people struggle with this on a daily basis. So the question is...
how did it get your IBS under control?
And I feel that understanding your personal triggers to any kind of flare that you might be experiencing is going to be most important.
So is it stress for you that triggers a blare or is it foods that may be causing more of the problem or is it both of them combined?
Sometimes when we are struggling with IBS, we feel a little bit out of control with trying to find these triggers, but today I'm going to walk through what some of the triggers might be, more importantly, if you do end up in a flare, what should you be considering in trying to reduce the symptoms and get back to feeling good again?
Now of course, as we're all individuals, IBS, triggers can really vary from person to person. And so as I said, understanding what your triggers are going to be important to getting down to reducing your symptoms.
Common Triggers for IBS Symptoms
Now, some of the more common triggers are going to be food, stress, medications, and even hormones. So identifying what brings on your symptoms can help you reduce any flare or just keep you feeling good from day to day.
Now, some of these foods that can be triggers for people might be spicy foods or caffeine, alcohol, even carbonated beverages, and one that we don't think of much maybe is even artificial sweeteners, but of course, there's always the seven top most inflammatory foods which gluten and dairy are a part of, and sometimes just those alone are increasing your symptoms.
Food Journaling: Tracking Your Diet and Symptoms
Now, ways that you can help yourself try to find your triggers will be by making a food journal and kind of creating maybe one or two weeks, maybe an entire month, writing down foods that you're consuming every day so that you can look back and kind of identify if it was a food, if it was a stressful situation, if it was a new medication that you're trying, or maybe it was just some hormonal fluctuations that increase those symptoms.
Then you can start to take out some of the food, for example, or you can understand that maybe you need to reduce stress in some way.
Now, sometimes, even though we might understand our triggers, we can't get rid of everything. For example, if we have a stressful event coming up, sometimes that's just out of our control, but we can find ways to help reduce stress.
But first, let's talk about the kind of foods that might help you reduce the symptoms during a flare and help you feel better more quickly. And while you're in a flare, one of the first things you want to think about is for sure taking out foods that you are known triggers.
What Should You Eat During An IBS Attack?
Now, of course, if you're just learning about them, it's going to be hard to do, but I think the first thing would be just kind of eating quiet food.
I always tell my clients to just kind of go back to the basics.
Soft, simple foods don't mean it needs to be just all white food because I don't want you just having all carbohydrates that can oftentimes increase inflammation in the body and then you're kind of perpetuating more symptoms, but just kind of these quiet foods.
As I said, examples would be things like eating a smoothie that's a lot easier for your gut to digest.
Or if you're dairy-free, you could do just dairy-free yogurt with some good protein powder in it.
Also, just kind of getting back to softer protein, so maybe incorporating more eggs if that is something that you enjoy.
Or even making soups. Soups are really easy on the gut like a chicken vegetable soup or even a roast beef and potatoes and carrots.
Just kind of think of those foods that are easy to digest and something that is calming to the digestive system.
Food Alternatives To Soothe Your IBS Symptoms
Now, of course, on top of foods, you'll just, like I mentioned, get back to those softer, just simple foods, nothing seasoned crazily, but also sipping on tea has been found to be really helpful.
And there are a couple of teas that do tend to help soothe. So one would be peppermint tea.
Peppermint tea has been shown in research to be very soothing on the intestinal tract and just kind of calming and it helps to relax those spasmodic muscles in our intestinal tract. So reducing maybe that abdominal pain, even gas or bloating.
Now that's just one tea. There is another tea that's really helpful too, which I often recommend to my clients.
It's called Rachel's Tea, and I do love it. It has many different factors to it.
I think it has some fennel, it does have a little peppermint, it has some anise in it, it has a little DGL, like licorice, and so all of those herby things are just nourishing and really helpful in just calming down your digestive system. It's extremely good for reducing bloating and gas.
As I mentioned, even keeping a food journal normally is going to be helpful, but even while you're having a flare, is going to be good data for you to go back on to see what foods really calm things down for you because then those are foods you can keep in your diet or just know you can always go back to quickly if you do have a flare that comes up.
Tips To Calm Your IBS Symptoms
The other thing that you'll want to also keep in mind as you're moving through a flare is keeping your food or meal timing spaced.
If we're eating every hour, a couple of hours, we're putting something in our mouth that doesn't give our digestive system time to digest and rest.
And so typically, keeping that three or maybe even four hours in between meals is going to be really helpful for your body to be able to digest the food and then even have time for it to rest.
Now, as I mentioned, even stress can trigger an IBS attack, and so that's where we really need to dig in and figure out if it's stress for you and what you can do about it. If it is, and I feel like I've talked about this a lot in our blogs in the past, but things such as meditation or just simple deep breathing.
Sometimes, when we get into an anxious state and a stressful situation, we tend to do more shallow breathing, and shallow breathing doesn't help our gut any.
So if you just take a few moments to just take some deep breaths, maybe it's two, three or five minutes that you take just to do some deep breathing and really kind of focus in on calming yourself down can be really helpful when it comes to an IBS attack and keeping those symptoms much more suppressed.
Also, I mentioned even doing some meditation can be helpful, just putting yourself into a more positive mindset. Sometimes, again, if we're in a stressful situation or we have something coming up that feels stressful, we're just maybe thinking more negatively and we feel tight and anxious about everything, and so that means our whole body is like that.
But if you start your day out with maybe a bit of meditation and positive affirmations even can really turn around the way that you're experiencing your flare and oftentimes can help to mitigate it more quickly.
Of course, reducing stress is going to be helpful, watching for your trigger foods or better understanding them. But also something that can be very helpful for an IBS attack is movement.
And so whether it's taking a walk around the block or just getting in daily activity, a gym workout, like I said, a walk, a run outside, just really enjoying doing some movement, and sometimes we feel like we just don't have time to do it or especially when we're having an attack, we just don't feel good at all.
I totally know what that feels like, but sort of pushing yourself to move can help to relax your entire body.
And when we think of having that IBS attack, we need to realize that our intestinal tract is in overdrive and it's moving too quickly, Irritable bowel, right? The bowel is irritated, so if we do a gentle walk, sometimes that alone will reduce our stress and then just reduce the stress on our body altogether.
Now, of course, if you've experienced IBS over the years and you've already pinpointed your triggers and you kind of have it all down to what you need to do in terms of getting the flare to reset more quickly, that's awesome.
But for those of you who might be struggling with new IBS symptoms or really just cannot figure out what kind of foods or triggers you're even having, it would be good to meet with a dietitian nutritionist such as myself.
So if you're really struggling with digestive symptoms, really struggling with more IBS flares than you've had in the past, or like I mentioned earlier, new symptoms, come visit us at Oswald Digestive Clinic.
We also have another dietitian on staff. Her name is Katie Bailey, and we'd love to help you sort out your digestive issues so that you can live your best life.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
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