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Forget Willpower – How to Make Better Food Choices

Most poisonous substances taste awful. You would never crave arsenic. But what happens when you have IBS and some food intolerances and your poison happens to be chocolate cake, or creamy pasta or fried chicken? These rich delicious dishes can be hard to give up even when you know they aren’t good for you. They may cause all the IBS symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and gas.

So how do you make better food choices with IBS?

You’ve had a bad day and all you want is to eat some chocolate. You think it’ll make you feel better. And you deserve it, you’ve worked hard. There is a part of you that knows you shouldn’t and you try to will your craving to go away. But it’s all wrapped up in emotion and exhaustion.

Plan ahead

When we are tired and stressed, we often make bad choices. And it is understandable, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. Willpower doesn’t even get a chance, we go for the easiest yummiest thing possible as it is a way to feel good in the moment and destress.

However, if we have planned ahead with our meals and have more healthy, non-reactive foods and treats on hand, we are more likely to make the better choice. I recommend putting aside a couple of hours on a Sunday (or whatever day works for you) and go shopping and make some meals and snacks that will last you through the week.

Also, have staples on hand at all times that are easy to throw together. This can be a lifesaver. Having different types of meats in your freezer and the vegetables that work for you. Then having some kinds of seasonings and sauces, like soy sauce in the pantry and easily accessible. Then you can easily throw together a salad or a stir-fry that you enjoy and doesn’t take much time or effort when you are exhausted at the end of the day.

Make it hard to access the unhealthy foods

Obviously, if you have the reactive food on hand, it is easy to make that choice. Don’t tempt yourself. Make it really hard for you to acquire the foods that your body reacts to. Don’t even go down that aisle at the supermarket. Treat it like a banned substance, a Class-A drug. That way when the choice is to go and buy some of it because it isn’t in your house, or just eat the healthy food that you have pre-prepared, then you are more likely to make the healthy choice.

Connect with your body

In those moments of exhaustion and when you really want to eat that food that maybe you shouldn’t, really connect with your body’s sensations. Honor the fatigue. Honor the adrenaline that has kept you going all day. And breathe. Give your body thanks for getting your through the day and ask it what it really wants you to eat. What will give it the nutrients that it needs? What will make it feel good? This can help you to make better choices as it is a way of honoring yourself and your body, and what better way to do that than to eat nourishing food. And if you have planned ahead, that food will be on hand and easy to access, taking the work out of it.

Forget willpower

These steps can mean that willpower does not even really come into play. You don’t have to force yourself to do anything. The healthy option is available and easier than the unhealthy choice and you are choosing it from a place of respect for your body.

Of course, there will be times when you give in and eat the unhealthy option. Its life, it happens, but make sure you connect with your body when you do that and really understand how it feels. Then link that feeling of bloating or whatever, in your mind to that food. You can use that feeling next time you want to have it and see whether you still make that choice.

Don’t feel guilty as that just makes everything worse. You aren’t a bad person because you ate the food, it was just the choice that you made in that moment. See what happens next time. There is always a next time to make a different choice.

I hope these steps help you on your journey to healing your IBS and make it a little bit easier to make better choices.

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

  • csitter
    1 week ago

    How do you deal with the problem that it seems like just about everything is a trigger.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 week ago

    Thanks for reaching out csitter. You are not alone here. Many in our community can relate to feeling like many foods are a trigger of symptoms and sometimes foods that once were “safe” may cause an issue. Have you tried keeping a food and symptom journal? This can often be helpful and may bring to light some connections. Anytime you have any new, changing or concerning symptoms be sure to speak with your doctor. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

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