An IBS Tip: It's Not Just What You Eat But How

A lot of IBS posts both on here and other sites seem to focus mainly on diet itself--that is, what the person with IBS should or should not eat in order to avoid triggering their symptoms. And in fact, diet is perhaps one of the most--if not THE most--important aspects to consider when trying to manage IBS. However, there are other aspects to consider that can also aid in management of the disorder and help alleviate or prevent some symptoms from flaring. To put it bluntly: it's not just what you eat when it comes to IBS, but HOW you eat.

What do I mean by that?

Tip 1: Eat slowly!

Well, portion size and mindfulness while eating can also make a big difference for those with IBS in preventing a flare. For instance, chewing one's food slowly and thoroughly before swallowing can actually really help IBS. This is because if you're wolfing down your food, you will be swallowing pieces of it that are not well-chewed. This means your digestive system will have to put in extra effort in breaking it down the food once it gets to the stomach and intestines. And since people with IBS have sensitive GI systems, putting extra stress on that system can increase chances of a flare. But if you take your time to chew your food really well while you are eating, it will already be broken down quite a bit before it hits your stomach and therefore require less work from your GI system to process.

Additionally, if you're eating in a rush, that means you are under stress or the action of eating fast may be contributing to stressful emotions, and stress is an IBS trigger. So, making sure you are relatively calm and relaxed while eating can also greatly benefit IBS.

Tip 2: Eat small meals

In that same vein, eating smaller portions rather than indulging in a huge meal can also really help prevent an IBS flare, for much of the same reasons that chewing and taking your time eating can. Once again, we patients with IBS have super-sensitive digestive systems that can easily get stressed out. So, if we eat a ton of food all at once, that can increase our likelihood of having a flare as our GI tracts will revolt when we overload it all at once. By eating smaller portions spaced out throughout the day, we will be accommodating our systems by letting it take on what it can in limited doses.

Tip 3: Take deep breaths and drink water

Finally, it helps to also take deep breaths between bites and drink some fluids (namely, water)--but not too much with a meal. Taking deep belly breaths can aide in the digestive process in general and it improves circulation. It also can help you feel more relaxed, which is also beneficial to IBS. Having small sips of water with one's meal can also help the food better digest. However, having too much fluids with a meal can sometimes trigger a flare for those with IBS-D or reflux for those with GERD, so consider the nuances of your own body. Those with IBS-C may benefit from more water. Yet, it's typically best to drink more water between meals than with meals unless a doctor suggests otherwise.

Do you know of any other methods of eating that benefit IBS or that have worked well for you? Please share in the comments below!

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

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