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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!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • cfamilyfix
    3 weeks ago

    I enjoy white rice or a buttered roll when I’m not feeling well. Still struggling with the low fodmop diet as many of those foods seem to irritate this condition for me.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing cfamilyfix. Glad you have found some foods that help you feel better. Low FODMAP may not be for everyone and it’s not intended to be followed long-term. Are you working with a Registered Dietitian to help work out your food triggers? Wishing you some relief ahead! Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • mariekine
    4 weeks ago

    I treat my flareups very similarly to you and find fasting for about 12 to 16 hours very helpful. Fasting for 18 hours a day for only 2 days and staying at home for those two days enabled me to get off my 10 year medication. This has enabled me to return to eating most foods again and I only have the occassional flare now usually caused from fatty foods, milk, mayonnaise, an overload of wheat or insoluble fibre from raw vegetables or grains. Soluble fibre is fine. For breakfast I now have banana or strawberries with wheat and oat FREE cereals, taken with coconut milk or Kefir. Lunch is salad with meat or fish but no coleslaw and for dinner I have meat or fish and plenty of cooked non fibrous vegetables. I can eat a little cheddar cheese and some curries but not all. I have black or peppermint tea to drink or plain water, but no milk. I can be ok on occassional gluten foods but if I overload on them this can cause a flare.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 weeks ago

    @mariekine,

    I’m so glad you were able to find something that works for you and has provided you with some relief. As an aside, for some of our readers, please see a doctor before experimenting with fasting. Thank you for sharing @mariekine and hope you are having a wonderful day. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • JanetLH
    4 weeks ago

    Chicken noodle or chicken rice soup is my go-to meal during a flare, with some applesauce on the side. And crackers. Dinner is likely to be some sort of chicken and rice dish. I’ll also eat yogurt and cheese, but not drink milk. I try to limit caffeine. I also like lightly buttered toast.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 weeks ago

    @janetlh,

    Pretty much exactly what I eat during a flare. All good ideas and an excellent place to start trying to figure it all out. Thank you for sharing. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • Corgimom
    4 weeks ago

    My go-to foods when I’m having a flare up are toast lightly buttered with margarine, rice, and oatmeal, with hot decaffeinated tea. I eat that as long as I need to, until the flare up is gone. I also eat only the foods that my stomach can handle on a daily basis. After awhile, you realize that eating something good is not worth 1-2 days of pain, agony, and having to stay close to a bathroom. Once I limited my diet, my flareups became much less common.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi @Corgimom,

    Your go-to foods are exactly the same as mine. And I couldn’t agree more about eating something good not being worth the days of pain and bathroom trouble. I still have the occasional willpower problems though :-). Thank you for sharing. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

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