IBS Diet Tips: How I Cut Down on Fat and Still Enjoyed Eating

One thing I realized early on in my IBS journey was that fatty, rich foods could be a major trigger. In particular, it seemed condiments caused a lot of tummy issues. This was sad for me, because I loved excess in that respect. I always ate salads drenched in ranch dressing or sandwiches with extra mayo. When I made mashed potatoes (a staple of my diet growing up in my Irish American household), I used my grandmother's recipe, which consisted of putting in almost a whole stick of butter and a ton of whole milk. I always put a lot of ketchup on both hash browns and scrambled eggs with my breakfast. And I used to down it all with a tall glass of whole milk.

But I quickly learned (the hard way) that to continue to do all of this was going to keep putting my gut in an uncomfortable or dire situation, as I was no longer a kid who could get away with these kinds of dietary risks. My body had changed, and I had to change my diet to adapt and live more comfortably. For awhile, this meant giving up a lot of condiments altogether: I completely stopped buying mayo and ketchup. I also stopped drinking whole milk on its own (which I never went back to). But as the introduction of a fiber regimen and taking a daily probiotic helped reign in the worst symptoms of my IBS, I started experimenting and adding some things back in I missed.

Too much fat

I realized that too much fat was really what seemed to aggravate my IBS. As a result, I started buying some lower fat brands of the condiments or foods I loved. For instance, for my breakfast cereal and morning tea, I opted for 2% instead of whole milk (and also decided to always go organic so hormones couldn't mess with my endo). I opted for roasted or sauteed foods as opposed to fried whenever possible. I bought low fat ranch dressing. I also realized moderation helped, so when I did use condiments it was lightly and sparingly.

Fast forward to my present life, and I've incorporated these changes in a way that have made a huge difference. When I make mashed potatoes now, I use organic almond or rice milk as opposed to cow milk. I also usually only use lactose-free or low-fat butter that I include only a few pats of rather than a whole stick. Sometimes I even go completely vegan and make the mashed potatoes with extra virgin olive oil instead, though I usually still prefer butter. I use rice or almond milk in my cereal and tea. I have found a vegan mayonnaise that is soy-free as well as dairy and egg-free (and therefore much lower fat), but to me tastes about the same as regular mayo. Nonetheless, I still use it somewhat sparingly compared to my younger self. For the most part, I don't use ranch much anymore for salads, but actually found I favor Italian dressings that are less filling and rich. Instead of milkshakes (which I used to have almost daily as a kid), I now will just have a small-scoop cone if I am craving ice cream as a special treat.

Second nature

To this day, whenever I get a salad at a restaurant I ask for the dressing (no matter what kind it is) to be served on the side, and tend I do that for other condiments or dressings for other meals as well, so I can control how much of it I eat and moderate as needed. If I am ordering a sandwich out, I always tend to ask them to go "extra light" on the condiments (on a somewhat related note, when I go to an Indian or Asian restaurant I also make sure to add emphasis that all foods I order need to made "extra mild" or "as mild as you can make it" since spicy foods also can trigger my IBS as do fatty foods).

This may sound high maintenance, but after awhile, this has all become very natural to plan out, almost second nature. I don't even think of it much consciously anymore. I would recommend trying to see if cutting down on some condiments or other fatty food staples in favor of lower fat alternatives, to see if it could help your IBS issues, too. Good luck!

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