The foods I eat when my IBS flares up

The Foods I Eat When My IBS Flares Up

When you have IBS flare ups, it can leave you feeling very uncomfortable. For me, it often presents as nausea, bloating and a lot of abdominal pressure – that’s when my IBS has also triggered constipation. But at other times, when my IBS has triggered diarrhea, I get a feeling of hollowness in my abdomen, as if it’s completely empty and desperately needs filling, and major cramping.

But even if your belly isn’t feeling the best, it doesn’t always stop your body from seeking nourishment. Managing that uncomfortable feeling with the desire to eat food can be tough because you need to make sure that any food you eat won’t make your symptoms worse.

What I do when I don’t feel like eating much

If the nausea and bloating stops me from feeling hungry and I have no desire to eat, I’ll happily skip a meal or two. I let my hunger call the shots rather than the time of day. Since I’ll normally be a little be hungry, yet I know that eating too much can make it worse, I stick to nibbling on small meals.

My most common choice is a piece of toast with a smear of peanut butter or jam. This goes down quite easily for me and the bread fills me up. Bread is also a good source of energy and keeps me functioning so I can get on with my day. I do have to make sure the bread is low FODMAP though, otherwise it would aggravate my belly further.

Another common choice for me is a small bowl of cooked brown rice. I keep a stash in the freezer that I can microwave so it’s defrosted and warm in minutes. I normally add a dash of tamari or soy sauce to make it more interesting, but otherwise keep it plain.

What I do when I’m very hungry

The flipside is when I’m feeling ravenous but still very delicate. At those times I’ll eat more food but still need to be very careful so I don’t make my symptoms worse. For me, that means making sure my choices are low FODMAP.

My most common choice for a filling meal that won’t upset my belly is eggs – scrambled, boiled or fried – served with toast. Sometimes I like to make eggs in bread, where I cut holes in the slices of bread and fry the eggs within it, or French toast (eggy bread). Occasionally I’ll toss some veggies in, but not a priority.

My other default choice when I need filling up is a bowl of porridge, made from rolled oats (oatmeal), almond milk and a little sugar, occasionally with a little dried fruit. This sits very well in my belly and fills it right up. While porridge is a breakfast food, I’ll eat it at any meal of the day if it’s what I think will work best. So yes, even for dinner!

But how do I make sure I’m getting enough nutrients?

I know that my food choices when I’m not feeling great aren’t nutritionally balanced – they’re mostly carbohydrates or eggs – but that doesn’t bother me.

The bread I eat is a multigrain bread, and the brown rice and rolled oats are wholegrains, which means they’re a good source of energy and fibre. And eggs are loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals, so are good choices too.

While I won’t be getting my full complement of vegetables, fruit or other healthy foods in those meals, it doesn’t really matter that much. So long as it balances out over a week or so, it’s okay. So as soon as my symptoms have settled back down, I get stuck into the fruit and veggies once again and make up for what I didn’t eat while I was letting my tummy rest.

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

View Comments (13)
  • Granny1963
    1 month ago

    Having IBS is so frustrating! I also constipation mostly the latter. The constipation is a everyday struggle, made worse by the pain meds I’m on. The diarrhea part sometimes actually disappears for a couple months, but aways comes back with a vengeance. As if to say, u didn’t really think I was gone did u?. Then I’m constipationed again, I usually take Miralax and prune juice or Miralax mixed in some other juice. My drs tried putting me on Amitiza, but I can’t take it or any of the ones that r similar to it. Miralax is the only thing that don’t make me sick, today(Nov.12) was another flare up day. Since I never know when it is going to flair up, or where it is going to flair up. So far I’ve always been it home, but I never know, and since the holidays r coming up I worry. I don’t want to be sick away from home, I know mine is not as worse as some the other people out there, most of the time I’m constipationed, but that ain’t no fun either. U can’t eat because u can’t go too the bathroom, I also have reflux disease. Diarrhea, constipation, nether one is any fun. So to everyone, take care ..

  • HessP moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Hi, Granny1963

    Thank you so much for sharing with us. I have IBS also, and it’s very annoying when my symptoms fluctuate between diarrhea and constipation. Your frustration resonates with me, so please know you are not alone, and many of us here can certainly relate. We have some tips on coping with IBS during the holidays, which I think you may be interested in reading. Here is the link: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/surviving-holiday-festivities/ . I hope you find it helpful. All we can ever do is our best, so stay strong, but definitely relax when you need to. Thank you for being a part of our community. Best, Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team Member

  • maagkrampe
    2 months ago

    Having IBS and Celiac is very frustrating because it limits my choice of food. Food I normally chose, eg., apples and other fruit, are not recommended on the FODMAP.

  • GrandmaDolly
    3 months ago

    Yes…bananas, applesauce, citrus, bread and rice are go to foods for an IBS flare. Now I also have MALABSORPTION which is IBS X 4 with projectile diarrhea. Foods must be very bland for my present digestion issues….after 10 months of malabsorption I would be HAPPY to have ‘plain, old IBS.’ Sometimes one must be grateful that things aren’t worse. (going to specialist gastroenterologist for malabsorption…no luck yet)

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi GrandmaDolly, Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry to hear that you are going through this. Glad you have found some foods that help you through a flare. Wishing you some relief soon. Best, Kelly, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • daisy737
    5 months ago

    If I haven’t gone to the bathroom I get notious I also have acid reflux when I’m bloated and right above my stomach gets hard I know I need to go it’s so frustrating when I can’t

  • Pilgrim
    8 months ago

    I have found these comments helpful regarding my severe IBS, and I have another flare-up again since last night and all day today. Just do not know what starts it. It is much as usual, needing to spend so much time in the bathroom, and yet getting no relief. Have tried many things, but eventually had to settle for some more kaolin/morphine mixture, my last resort. I have found other suggestions helpful regarding what to eat. I managed some toast and marmalade earlier on today, and did not feel like porridge so have just had some organic corn flakes in milk with yoghurt, hoping not to make matters worse. I, too, would try a scrambled egg if I felt able to manage it. That is protein, and is sustaining. I have dealt with this IBS and other stomach matters for most of my life, but as I am also chronically ill and disabled, it is just another problem to deal with. Just hoping to hear of anything other sufferers find helps them. Please state, as we can learn from each other. Regards Pilgrim

  • DorisE
    8 months ago

    I feel for you , and I also have other health issues, so trying to find what to eat is a challenge for sure. I did the FODMAP diet to the letter for two weeks and the diarrhea was worse than ever …projectile.
    Because I cook for my spouse I do find it tempting to sneak a few spoonfuls of what I know will bother me… but lately hav pe been making him a regular meal and mine, well, bland. Mainly it is no onions, no whole wheat, no nuts, tomaores, most fruit and vegetables…not even juice. As I dont get flareups, when in between i can eat normally, I have diarrhea and cramps daily except whn i take imodium … but seems I am increasing the dose more and more.
    I agree, bananas, white bread, eggs, and some flavoured yogurt to which I add a handful of cheerios for some crunch. Mashed potatoes, plain fish, chicken, white rice, ginger cookies. I do feel my body isn’t getting enough nutrition … so glad to have helpful site like this as family physicians dont understand or dont have time.

  • Rann1950
    2 years ago

    Eggs are my go to when I am having another episode of IBS-D. They seem to comfort my cramping. I use Ghee rather than regular butter. If I eat other proteins such as natural bacon and fresh pork sausage in a scramble or on the side it helps the void for me not being able to eat gluten. Bananas work well for me too. As much as I like hummus, it is not my friend with IBS-D. I look at every day as an adventure never really knowing what may come back to bite me. I agree with Ksquared26, this is a great article and I love the support from this community.

  • DorisE
    8 months ago

    ….sorry, but I no longer look at each new day as an adventure, its more like going to sleep at night not knowing how much pain I will be in once ai wake up….. keep up your positive attitude, I am afraid I lost mine several years ago..

  • Ksquared26
    2 years ago

    Eggs are great for me too. As are bananas and applesauce. Hummus is also weirdly good. I can not eat oatmeal, which I know works so well for some! Love this article and would love to hear feedback from others!

  • daisy737
    5 months ago

    Doesn’t bananas back you up?

  • Chris Hall moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Ksquared26,

    Thanks so much for commenting! It’s great to hear that you’ve found some healthy food options that work for you. I think you might find these articles helpful as well:

    https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/food/travel-snacks/
    https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/food/a-week-of-meals/
    https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/food/fodmap-1800-calorie-1-day-menu-plan/

    Thanks for being a part of our community!

    -Chris, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team Member

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