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registered dietitian weight loss tips

registered dietitian weight loss tips
Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

RDN, CLT​

There Is Hope. How To Manage Your IBS Symptoms

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registered dietitian weight loss tips

We’ve been talking about IBS this month. We’ve covered the symptoms and causes of IBS here. And we talked about how to find out if you have IBS here.

Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, you can take action that will help you start feeling better. If you can relate to one of the following scenarios, I have some tips that can help calm down your digestion.

Do Any Of These Sound Like You?

? You’re never sure how your food is going to hit you, or even when. You feel okay while you eat, but then hours (or sometimes minutes) later, you feel that telltale gurgle. And you know you’d better find a bathroom and FAST. You’re tired of planning your life around the bathroom, carrying spare underwear in your purse, and worrying every time you leave the house.

? You feel like you gain 20 pounds a day, only to lose it overnight. When you get dressed in the morning your pants feel good. But then midway through your day they start to get tight. And by afternoon you’re so bloated and uncomfortable that you can’t even button them anymore. 

? Your abdomen is swollen and hard as a rock. You’re so uncomfortable it hurts to sit down (or stand back up). You know the problem. You haven’t pooped. Days go by and it just keeps getting worse. You’ve tried laxatives, and they work — usually. But the label warns they’re only for “occasional” use and you don’t want to be dependent on them.

Whether You Have An IBS Diagnosis Or Not, If You’re Dealing With One Of The Above Scenarios, You’re Ready For Relief. 

In our culture, people who don’t feel well often look to this cycle:

  1. Go to the doctor
  2. Get diagnosed with something
  3. Get a prescription that will make you feel better.

But This Cycle Misses Some Important Factors:

Symptoms are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Treating just the symptoms doesn’t fix the underlying problem.

Lifestyle factors play a HUGE role in your health. Living in a difficult situation — a bad marriage, an overly stressful job, constant money worries, missing out on exercise — these (and many other factors) affect both your physical and mental health. Making an improvement to your situation or lifestyle can make a tremendous difference in how you feel.

What you eat matters. How you fuel your body affects your health down to the cellular level. If you’re living on junk food, or even eating seemingly healthy foods you’re sensitive to, your body will be affected and you won’t feel your best.

The best thing you can possibly do is address the root cause of your symptoms with a practitioner who specializes in IBS (like me). But in the meantime, I’m going to share some things you can try TODAY that can help calm down your symptoms so you can be more comfortable.

Lifestyle Changes That Improve IBS Symptoms

Exercise

Consistent exercise carries many benefits from cardiovascular health to stronger bones and muscles. But in the case of IBS, exercise can help reduce and relieve stress — a common IBS trigger.

I’m not talking about flipping giant tires at a 5:00am boot camp — unless that’s your thing and it feels good for you. Movement can be as simple as a daily walk.

Relaxation Techniques

Calming your mind and body helps a variety of issues, both mental and physical. If you have digestive issues (including IBS), relaxation can help by: 

✔ Dampening pain 

✔ Lessening the physical manifestations of stress 

✔ Helping develop self-help and healthy coping skills 

✔ Managing irritability — which often goes hand-in-hand with chronic conditions

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders recommends three relaxation techniques to help reduce IBS symptoms:

  1. Abdominal breathing — also known as belly breathing
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation. If you’d like to try it, check out this video.
  3. Visualization or positive imagery. If you’d like to relax with an imaginary trip to the beach, try this video.
Sleep

If you struggle with IBS symptoms, you may also struggle with sleep. Unfortunately, 40% of IBS patients have trouble sleeping. Diarrhea and stomach pain can keep you up at night, interrupting sleep patterns. 

And when you’re not getting enough sleep, you are more likely to suffer from irritability and pain.

Working with your practitioner to improve your IBS symptoms can make a big difference in your sleep. But Improving your sleep hygiene can help too. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these techniques:

? Avoid sleeping during the day — or if you take a nap, keep it to 30 minutes.

? Set yourself up for success — cool room, comfortable bedding, blackout curtains, a soothing noise machine…

? Have a bedtime routine — have some screen-free time, a warm bath or shower, read a book, etc.

? Exercise — I know I already mentioned this one, but it helps you sleep too.

Meal Timing

When IBS patients first come into my practice, many of them are afraid to eat. So they skip meals and eat at odd hours.

But keeping your body on a schedule can help your IBS symptoms. So try to stick to regular meal times as much as possible.

Some patients benefit from eating several small meals each day, rather than 3 larger ones.

Dietary Changes That Improve IBS Symptoms

I’ve worked with over 1,000 patients with IBS and other digestive problems. And the biggest game changer for most of them is food. If you can figure out which foods are exacerbating your symptoms, you can eliminate those foods and improve your symptoms.. 

There are certain foods that most IBS patients feel better avoiding:

❌ Alcohol

❌ Caffeinated beverages

❌ Gassy foods — beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage

❌ Dairy — many IBS patients are lactose intolerant

❌ Spicy foods

❌ Fried or high-fat foods

❌ Chocolate

❌ Carbonated drinks

❌ Raw fruits and vegetables

❌ Gluten — found in products containing certain grains including wheat and barley

❌ Foods high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) — We’ll look closer at FODMAPS and the low-FODMAP diet in the next few weeks.

It can be discouraging to give up foods you love. I totally get that. But managing IBS isn’t only about eliminating foods. I help my patients avoid feeling deprived by working with them to trade their problem foods in for other delicious foods that will help them feel better.

You can also potentially reduce your symptoms by adding in the following:

✅ Soothing herbs like peppermint and chamomile

✅ Ginger

✅ Fiber — cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw and still provide fiber

✅ Water — Drink at least 8 glasses per day

It Is Possible To Manage IBS Symptoms

IBS symptoms can take over your life. You find yourself worrying about them, and planning around them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. IBS can be managed.

Taking your life back is all about getting to the root cause of your IBS symptoms. Then you and your practitioner can tackle the real issues head-on. And once you’ve addressed the underlying causes, the symptoms go away (or at least get much better).

If you’re ready to get to the root cause of your IBS symptoms, click the button below. We can get on a consultation call and talk about how to get you on the right track to feeling better and getting your life back.

Book a Consultation

I’ve Also Taken My Top IBS Resources And Put Them In My IBS Resource Guide. You Can Download It Here.

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