There is no cure for IBS. However many people are able to control their symptoms with lifestyle modifications, stress management, and medications. Therefore, treatment tends to focus on managing the condition by reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms.
What you eat plays a major role in treating your IBS. The first consideration is adequate nutrition. Because you may decide to avoid certain foods because they cause symptoms, make sure you are not missing out on essential nutrients. For example, if you avoid dairy products, it may be difficult to meet your calcium needs. You may need to take a calcium supplement. A registered dietitian can help you determine if your diet is complete and how best to supplement it.
There are some foods more likely to cause symptoms in people with IBS. However, reactions to foods are very individualized, and you may find that foods other than those listed here also cause symptoms.
Here are some tips:
Keep a food diary, listing what you eat and what the reaction is. Discuss the findings with your doctor or dietitian.
Make gradual changes to your diet and record the results.
Avoid foods that have provoked symptoms more than once. A dietitian can help you choose substitutes for offending foods.
The following foods and drinks may provoke symptoms:
Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream)
Legumes (dried beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, lentils, kidney beans, and others)
Other gas-producing foods
Large amounts of alcohol or caffeine
Sweetening agents, such as sorbitol and fructose (check the fine print on the food label)
Eat foods that may reduce the risk of spasm, such as:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole grains and other high-fiber foods (Note: Until your body adjusts, more fiber may increase gas and bloating; increase your fiber intake slowly and drink lots of fluids. Talk with your healthcare provider about the proper amount of fiber you should have in your diet.)
Eat smaller meals more often or smaller portions, rather than eating a few large meals.
Eat slowly and try not to swallow air.
Drink more water to help reduce constipation.
Keep a food diary and avoid those foods that cause symptoms.
Eat foods that can help firm up stools, such as cheese and bananas.
Consider foods that stimulate bowel movements, such as high-fiber foods, fruits, and prune juice.
Consider a fiber supplement to help soften your stool and make bowel movements easier.
Consider stool softeners.
Keep a food diary and avoid those foods that cause gas. Foods that commonly cause gas are:
Fructose and sorbitol in beverages
To help reduce gas caused by legumes, try Beano.
If dairy products cause gas, take the lactase enzyme when eating dairy foods, or try lactose-free milk or substitute yogurt for milk.
Try simethicone to reduce gas accumulation.
Place hot or cold packs on your abdomen.
Managing Your Emotional Health
IBS can disrupt your life. It is very stressful to worry about having poor bowel control. Also, emotional stress is strongly linked to worsening of symptoms.
Consider counseling or others methods of reducing your stress. These include:
Deep breathing exercises
Counseling to help develop coping skills
Exercise (also improves bowel function)
When to Contact Your Doctor
A comfortable working relationship with your physician is critical to effective treatment. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable and stay in regular contact. Be sure to report any new symptoms or significant worsening of others.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a