It can be a struggle to manage IBS symptoms. Personally, it took me two years to finally start living my life again. To not have IBS occupy 95% of my thoughts.
If you’ve just been diagnosed, or you still haven’t found any effective ways to deal with IBS, this post is for you.
To help you get a quicker grip on your IBS symptoms, I’ve teamed up with IBScoach.org for this. They offer a personalised program for symptom relief and digestive issues through their web app, which is basically a way to avoid spending years trying to manage IBS. Instead, you get professional online guidance from a highly structured Low FODMAP program.
Below, I will explain the steps that have helped me get my life back after being diagnosed with IBS. And to make these (often challenging) steps feel more achievable, I’ll show you how the IBScoach program approaches them to make your journey that much easier!
STEP 1: FIND THE RIGHT IBS DIET
Calm your IBS with a Low FODMAP diet
The Low FODMAP diet is a well-known tool for figuring out what foods trigger your IBS, and which are safe to consume (and in what quantities). If you’ve never heard of it, you can read a pretty good explanation here. Basically, you start by cutting out anything risky (a.k.a. high FODMAP) and then slowly reintroduce those foods to see how your digestive system reacts.
If you haven’t tried the Low FODMAP diet yet, I highly recommend that you do! It really is the first step to figuring out your IBS diet.
Nonetheless, once I started implementing the Low FODMAP diet, I very quickly got stuck making the same 2 or 3 meals over and over again. Nothing felt safe anymore, besides rice and potatoes.
The list of foods to avoid is long, and it’s such a struggle to come up with actual recipes! Since I didn’t have any inspiration to cook, I ate the most ill-balanced diet you can imagine.
IBScoach actually does the whole meal planning process for you. You either let the app plan your meals or you hand-pick every meal yourself, depending on your preference.
Since the recipes are more sophisticated than plain white rice, the people you live with can follow the diet with you! Whether it’s your partner or your kids: there would be no need to cook several different meals anymore.
Find ways to eat healthy(ish) on the Low FODMAP diet
What I still struggle with to this day regarding my IBS diet is finding healthier options that don’t upset my stomach. When you have IBS-D, all you want is to do is limit diarrhoea, and this can lead to eating a mostly carb-based diet.
Eating only carbs might mean that you’re not consuming enough nutrients or vitamins. I’m not an expert at all, so I don’t really know if the risk is real or just in my head. But I always felt like I needed to take tons of supplements because I had such a poor diet. Only supplements can trigger your IBS, too!
It quickly becomes a vicious cycle between being too scared of anything “healthy” while stressing over a potential deficiency you might get.
But you don’t have to do that. While I personally can’t eat too many fruits or vegetables, some are definitely okay – as long as they’re the right fruits and vegetables.
The recipes provided by IBScoach are much more balanced than what I used to eat during the whole Low FODMAP process.
And since they’ve been created specifically for IBS sufferers, you won’t have to triple-check any Low FODMAP lists before eating something. Believe me, I did that and it’s so annoying, especially when you’re eating out or trying to adapt regular recipes at home!
To make meal planning for IBS even easier, IBScoach provides you with a list of ingredients that you can use for your grocery shopping.
Some of the recipes, like almond porridge with berries, are actually ones that I’ve been making super often! Berries are my favourite fruit, and my IBS likes them, too. So, I can tell you that it’s good and does not upset (my) IBS. 🙂
Share your Low FODMAP food with friends
Even though I have been quite happy with my IBS diet and routine for the past 3 years, it only seems to work when I’m by myself. Sure, my fiancé got used to not adding specific ingredients like onions or garlic to our meals. But other people didn’t, and they tend to find my preparations too bland.
One of the first things I thought when seeing the IBScoach recipes was that these looked like appropriate meals for non-IBS-sufferers, too. If they’re as good as they seem, surely no guest would complain!
Don’t these pictures just remind you of a festive meal?
STEP 2: TRACK YOUR IBS SYMPTOMS
One of the IBS tips I’ve heard everywhere was to track my symptoms.
I started doing that once I began working from home and didn’t mind keeping a (pretty embarrassing) log of all my digestive symptoms nearby. And I wish I had started sooner because it taught me some interesting things!
For example, I had never noticed how dried fruit could cause bloating for me. It only became apparent when I reread all my entries and saw that oftentimes when I seemingly got bloated for no reason, I had eaten a lot of dried fruit before.
At that time, I was constantly making porridge with raisins, so I’m honestly not sure how I never realised that this was the cause of my bloating. Once I removed that IBS trigger and replaced it with frozen berries, I no longer felt bloated all the time.
I stopped keeping this log after about 6 months because it became too tedious, but I had already learnt so much about my IBS and its triggers!
Now, you could simply use a journal as I did. But I actually really like the symptom tracker on the IBScoach app.
It’s just more convenient to not have to carry a journal around. And it’s less risky because people aren’t as likely to go through your phone as they are to read a journal that’s lying on the kitchen counter!
STEP 3: GET INTO THE RIGHT MINDSET
I’ve talked about this multiple times on my blog, but
When I was working at my corporate job, I had flare-ups all the time. They got much more predictable with my Low FODMAP diet, but they didn’t go away. And the reason was my increasingly high stress level.
I felt guilty for being less productive, less social and consumed by my illness. At the same time, I couldn’t not think about it, because I was so scared of getting flare-ups all the time.
Basically, my IBS triggered a ton of anxiety, which in turn was triggering my IBS. Fun!
Sometimes, ongoing IBS symptoms can be a sign that you’re on the wrong path in life. This was the case for me: my lifestyle just wasn’t working for me anymore.
I got out of this vicious circle by focusing on the good stuff I had. My family, my relationship, my desire to create my own business. At the same time, I let go of lots of stress factors. I quit my corporate job, moved from a big city to a small town and started working from home.
But not everyone needs to change everything.
Little things like a daily gratitude practice can help you lead a more positive life. Instead of hating your body for having IBS, you work with it to make the symptoms as manageable as possible.
IBScoach provides tools to help you develop a healthy mindset about IBS and thus decrease your stress-related symptoms. For example, the program encourages you to practice gratitude. And honestly, this is something we should all do more often!
STEP 4: GET THE SUPPORT YOU NEED
Another important part of dealing with IBS is getting support from loved ones. Once you have people by your side who understand your illness and will cover for you if you have a flare-up, you’ll feel so much better about the situation!
However, getting support is not as easy when you have IBS. Like with every invisible illness, some people tend to think that it’s not real. That it’s all just in your head.
The only thing you can really do is explain what you’re going through, over and over again, until you find someone who understands.
For me, it’s my fiancé. He accepts that I struggle with leaving the house in the morning. He eats trigger foods off my plate when we’re eating out so that I don’t feel bad about wasting food. And he knows how to calm down my anxiety about having an IBS flare-up outside of the house.
However, years passed before we got to that point. That’s how long it took me to make him truly understand. After all, how do you explain something that you barely comprehend yourself?
You can spend hours researching IBS. Reading other people’s stories. Trying things out for yourself, as I did.
Or, you can get someone to help you.
To speed up the complicated process of understanding IBS, IBScoach provides you with tons of additional information about the illness and its triggers.
Not only does this help you recognise and control your symptoms much quicker, but it also makes it so much easier to explain certain things to the people around you!
STEP 5: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Managing your IBS symptoms means creating the right diet, knowing your triggers, thinking positively and having a solid support system.
All of these things together make sure that you don’t introduce anything risky into your body while keeping your stress levels as low as possible. Food and stress are the two major triggers of IBS symptoms, and combining these steps will keep them at bay.
IBScoach makes the entire process a lot easier. Not only does it provide a fun and stress-free way to follow the Low FODMAP diet, but the program also offers expert holistic tuition and knowledge to beat your IBS symptoms for good.
While I didn’t have a chance to try IBScoach during the early stages of my IBS journey, I feel like it would have helped so much. So, if you’re struggling to cope with IBS symptoms now, you can click below to discover their program and test it for yourself. 🙂
I really hope that you found these tips helpful! You can decide to follow them by yourself, or do the IBScoach program which is designed to give you the most effective results.
In any case, please don’t let yourself get discouraged by the annoyance that is IBS! It’s not easy to deal with, but you can still enjoy your life when you have it. I promise.