Eating Plant-Based with IBS
Plant-based diets are all the rage. And, for a good reason! According to Food Insight consumer surveys, people ages 18-80 are interested in plant-based eating. Since 2010 there is a huge upward trend in interest. Consumption of protein from plant sources and plant-based meat and dairy alternatives has increased significantly in the past year.1,2 Plant-based approaches and interventions can save money and improve health outcomes, according to research.
People are learning the ins and outs of the current food system and are now questioning the environmental, ethical, and health effects of a meat-heavy diet. The verdict is in, and a plant-forward diet is the way of the future. With this said, more often, my patients with IBS are asking me, how can I eat more plant-forward? While IBS management has popularly centered around low FODMAP diets to alleviate symptoms, is there a way to combine both a gut-friendly and sustainable lifestyle?
Whether you’re choosing now to add a few more days of the week to Meatless Mondays or going 100 percent plant-based, it is possible to eat plant-forward with IBS. In fact, the nature of veganism makes it easy to avoid high FODMAP foods such as cream cheese, cow’s milk, and yogurt. There are also many fruits, vegetables, and grains that can trigger IBS symptoms. Check out these helpful tips to reap the benefits of a plant-forward diet while keeping your gut happy.
Plan your meals
A little organization goes a long way! There are plenty of plant-based whole foods that are IBS-friendly. In fact, for those with IBS-C, it’s especially beneficial to increase plant foods since they are rich in soluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool. Eat plants on the regular to STAY regular!
Following a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be strictly “rabbit food.” And it doesn’t have to be 100 percent plant-based to make a difference in your health or the planet. Combine different textures, herbs, and spices to make a veggie sensation. But, to make the most of your mealtimes, it’s critical to have different plant-based options available. In other words, it all starts with a grocery list. Choose gluten-free bread and pasta, or stick to whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or oats. Bring a list of low FODMAP fruits and vegetables, or buy familiar produce you knowingly already tolerate. For technologically savvy people, consider investing in a FODMAP app to navigate your grocery store choices. Also, it’s okay to mix whole plant-based foods with some convenience foods. For example, buying some frozen veggie bites or veggie burgers may help you figure out what taste combinations and ingredients you like best. Then you can develop your own!
It’s a common misconception that it’s challenging to get enough protein while on a plant-based diet. But there are tons of different IBS-friendly choices to help you live a sustainable lifestyle. Experiment with protein-packed options such as firm tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, and hemp hearts as a gut-friendly alternative to animal products. Whole-grains can also contribute to your protein needs and should be incorporated throughout the day. Beans can also be eaten in small amounts. For a lower FODMAP option, opt for canned varieties, and rinse their contents well before its consumed.3
If you are looking to adopt an IBS-friendly, plant-forward diet but don’t know where to start, check out this tasty sample day menu.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?