Nutrient-Dense Snack ideas for IBS
Last updated: May 2019
It’s not uncommon for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to experience poor appetite or intestinal discomfort as a regular part of life—others may only experience these symptoms when they eat certain foods. However, for those who avoid certain foods or have a poor appetite because of discomfort, nutrient sufficiency can be an issue. What’s more, lack of sufficient nutrients will almost always lead to fatigue. While diet alone cannot cure individuals with IBS, it can play a major role in making you feel less tired. If you have a poor appetite, don’t force yourself to eat a big meal in one sitting - try mini-meals or snacking throughout the day instead. Here are some great ideas that will nourish your body and may even calm an upset stomach.
A nutrient powerhouse, this high-protein and high-fiber breakfast food is a great way to start the day. Oatmeal contains nearly equal amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower blood pressure and decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes, and insoluble fiber can be beneficial for reducing constipation and abdominal discomfort by facilitating bowel movements. Beta-glucan, a compound in oats, has been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Oatmeal is also an excellent source of iron (46% of your daily needs), which is important for individuals with IBS who also have iron-deficiency anemia. If you are sensitive to gluten, choose gluten-free oats. You can also make oats in a slow-cooker or soak overnight.
Choose unflavored instant or quick-rolled oatmeal, which has a creamier texture and is easier on the gut. Pair it with lactose-free milk for bone-loving calcium, and sliced bananas for added fiber and potassium.
The smooth consistency and high nutrient density of this fruit makes it a smart choice for people with IBS. Avocados are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamins C and K. They are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that maintains the immune system and protects against heart disease and some forms of cancer. Avocados are made of mono-unsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.2 In addition, they contains lutein, a carotenoid that protects against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.3 If whole-grain bread upsets your stomach, try sourdough bread - the flour is fermented before baking, so it can be easier to digest. Simply toast the bread, scoop out the avocado, spread onto the bread and enjoy!
These treats taste great and are digested easily. Try Lactaid (lactose-free milk) or fortified soy milk and add a variety of fruits such as papayas, bananas, or blueberries (pro tip: freeze the banana beforehand to add extra creamy thickness). Add silken tofu or peanut butter for some protein and a nuttier flavor. This nutrient dynamo provides you with fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – all in one easy to make drink! Just put all the ingredients into a blender and pulse till smooth.
- ½ cup Lactaid or fortified soy milk, (add more for thinner consistency)
- ½ cup Bananas/blueberries
- 1 tablespoon Peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons Silken tofu
Pureed vegetable soups
A host of vegetables can be made into tasty and soothing soups. They make great mini-meals and provide you with fiber and a power-shot of important vitamins and minerals. Some vegetables that make wonderful purees include cauliflower, carrot, butternut squash, and roasted red pepper. You can purchase these vegetables ready-packaged for soup at your local supermarket – look for the low salt options. But if you have a regular or immersion blender, you can easily make this at home. Here is a simple recipe using butternut squash.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups butternut squash, diced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large pot.
- Add onions, garlic and squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in enough chicken stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
- Once vegetables are tender, transfer to a blender in batches to puree, or use immersion blender directly in pot and puree until the soup reaches desired consistency.
Just remember to always monitor your symptoms. IBS is a chronic disorder, and your triggers may change with time. So if you experience constipation or diarrhea more often with certain foods—cut them out and reintroduce at a later time. Also, IBS isn’t just impacted by the foods you eat; emotional stress can also cause symptoms.4 So, to ensure a strong appetite that will maximize your nutrient intake, keep a handle on stress!
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?