A person eats rice with sauteed veggies from a bowl, and you can see the food going down through her GI tract which is bright red at the bottom but gradually becoming less bright as the food goes down.

The Best Meals When Recovering From a Flare

I am fortunate in that bad IBS flares are relatively rare for me nowadays and have been for quite a few years. The flares I do get tend to be minor and brief and I recover from them rather quickly. However, every once in a while I will still get a bad flare-up (as I did just this past weekend), that will leave my gut feeling raw and clenched, as though it is ready to reject anything I try to eat. This can go on for an entire day or two following the flare, so I have to be cautious.

When I was younger and didn't know better, I would just wait a few hours or a half-day and then jump back into eating or drinking whatever I wanted. Sometimes it didn't make my IBS symptoms worse, but more often than not it did. So I was stuck in a constant cycle I seemed helpless to overcome. But for well over a decade now, I've known of a better way and try to remain vigilant in employing the tactics I've learned from years of reading about and my own lived experience.

Fasting helps with IBS symptoms

Now, when I get a flare that causes me to run back and forth from the bathroom several times in a single hour, I make sure to fast for the next several hours at least; or, if it is after dinner, I will abstain from eating anything else for the rest of the evening and wait till the next morning to try food again.

Foods I eat and foods I avoid during a flare-up

If I still have that sensation my intestines are in knots, but I can no longer abstain from food and know I need to eat something, I make sure to eat only bland and/or safe foods with a reputation for being IBS-friendly. If it's dinner, this usually amounts to a bowl of plain white rice with some steamed or lightly sauteed vegetables and vegetarian staples that are low FODMAP and high in soluble fiber, such as carrots, mushrooms and spinach, and potentially some organic tofu (which I don't eat too much of since I have endo and soy is high in estrogen). I eat small meals and I eat slowly and mindfully.

I avoid any foods or drinks that are fatty or rich, until I feel 100% better and have been flare-free for at least a day or likely, two days or more. For breakfast I will have my usual banana and oatmeal but with no granola on it as I do on flare-free days. My lunch will usually also be a banana and a plain bagel with low-fat cream cheese.

I make sure to stay away from acidic, fatty or spicy foods completely, as well as eating too much--until I am recovered. While I may eat some dairy (cheese), I keep it minimal and stick to the staples least likely to bother me. I also double up on probiotics and may eat some vegan, soy-free yogurt as well to get in good bacteria without instigating another upset. I drink either organic chamomile tea or plain filtered water, nothing else.

I find that this is really helpful in settling my stomach and will enable me to bounce back quickly and be less likely to have a relapse. And if I can avoid a relapse, I find I can then go weeks or even months again without a flare, breaking the cycle that used to keep me down (where I was getting IBS episodes several times a week).

What foods do you eat that help you recover from an IBS flare? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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