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A plate of food shows part of each portion marked out in red, indicating that if the person eating this meal were to eat the full portion (including the red) it may result in discomfort.

Learning My Lesson of Not Eating BIG with IBS

As a kid growing up, I used to always eat big and finish my whole plate. Many times, I would even ask for seconds and finish that whole plate too, which I later realized was not the healthiest thing to do because I ended up becoming overweight at a young age. In my home, food was the staple that brought the family together, and for my mom, the more you ate, the more you showed her that you loved and appreciated her cooking. What can I say – I just love my momma’s cooking! Well, even after leaving my parents’ house and realizing that I could lose a few pounds, it still didn’t stop me from overeating. It wasn’t until I later developed irritable bowel syndrome when I learned my lesson in not eating such LARGE meals.

Portion control is important for IBS

When I first got IBS, it took me years to truly understand what types of foods/habits would trigger my symptoms. I didn’t comprehend for a long time that portion control actually matters for more reasons than losing weight. It wasn’t until I started using a symptom/food diary for IBS-D that I understood when I ate big portions, my stomach would instantly become painfully distended and bloated, and I would have to use the toilet way more often throughout the day. Heck, I might even have to call out of work the next day or two. In fact, for many of us with IBS, overeating can affect us greatly for so many different reasons. For instance, many IBS sufferers deal with poor digestion, trigger ingredients/food intolerances, visceral hypersensitivity, improper chewing of food/eating too fast, etc. Therefore, portion control is especially important for people with IBS because overeating can exasperate IBS symptoms.

Quantity of food matters

I have also learned that it doesn’t always matter what I eat either; whether I eat too much mac and cheese or too much salad with all types of vegetables, I will still most likely suffer similar consequences due to my IBS. So regardless of the type of food I eat, portion control is always important for my health. Also, I believe that portion control goes hand-in-hand with eating schedules. For instance, one can simply overeat by eating small portions many times throughout the entire day. Therefore, if you’re going to practice controlling your portions, then it is also important to manage the times you eat as well.

Portion control is good for overall health, not just IBS

Fast-forward to now, I have learned that portion control is very important for everyone, no matter how healthy/unhealthy they are. Eating big all the time does not allow the human body time, space, and energy to properly digest food and feed on the nutrients, and it can lead to very serious health concerns, such as obesity and diabetes. Thus, learning how to control portions is a skill to hone for the sake of overall health. Practicing control of my eating habits as an adult has helped me become more strong-minded and more responsible when I make certain food decisions. I could cite many credible references as to why portion control is important for those who suffer from IBS, but I feel it is easier to explain why it is important through my own experience and how it’s helped me evolve as a human being. I hope many of you can relate.

Have any of you with IBS ever struggled with portion control? If so, how did you overcome and manage your habit? Look forward to reading your responses!

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

  • anona
    5 months ago

    I’ve had IBS for over 20 years but it has taken me at least half that time to work out the best way to deal with it as there doesn’t seem to be a set pattern.
    I have definitely found that eating smaller portions is most effective for me and also eating every 4 hours at least…. going without food for too long isn’t good if you have IBS.
    I no longer skip breakfast, no matter how small it might be and this too has helped my IBS.

  • HessP moderator author
    5 months ago

    I can totally relate, @anona! I’ve had IBS for almost 10 years and it took me about half that time to figure out what works best for me as well. Seems like going through a lot of trial and error is part of the journey. Glad to know you find eating smaller portions to be most effective for you also. Thanks so much for sharing what works for you, and taking the time to read my article. Best – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • ldonne
    5 months ago

    I have also found it helpful to eat smaller meals and occasional snacking throughout the day. Looking back it makes me remember the times I used to go out for dinner, on one occasion I had ordered probably the blandest meal…. Steamed rice, steamed vegetables and chicken on the side. My dinner friend ordering a huge pizza topped with pepperoni and cheese. Is that what your eating ? I got asked. Yes, and I’m going to enjoy it!

  • HessP moderator author
    5 months ago

    I’m glad you find eating smaller meals to be helpful as well, @ldonne! And I can most definitely relate to your experience. There were many times in the past when I would go out to eat and just have a salad while my friends would eat greasy, delicious-looking food. They thought I was trying to lose weight, but I was only trying to avoid my IBS triggers, lol. Thank you for sharing and being a part of the community! Stay strong! – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndromel.net Team

  • Encyes
    5 months ago

    When I was a kid I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and how much I wanted. I was skinny and I COULD eat when, what and how much. Large portions and seconds though didn’t come until I got married when in my mind, if I didn’t take a second helping or a large plate of food, I thought my Wife would think I didn’t like what she cooked. Not the case of course, and because I didn’t reserve from eating a large amount and just say something, I paid the price afterwards. It’s only until recently that I have tried to manage my portions including telling my Wife that if I take smaller amounts it’s not that she’s not a wonderful cook! However, I personally find it tough to manage in smaller portions especially when I feel I need to gain weight and I’m trying to increase my calorie intake. I feel like I’m not taking in enough food to make a difference! But if I DO take in a lot of food – I pay the price!

  • HessP moderator author
    5 months ago

    Thanks for sharing and being able to relate, @encyes! Overeating can either trigger or exasperate IBS symptoms, so smaller portions seem to be the way to go for many of us. And in regard to managing your calorie intake and IBS symptoms – have you considered speaking with a dietitian or nutritionist for help? Thank you again for sharing and being a part of the community! Stay positive! – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • webdeb704
    5 months ago

    Portion control definitely makes or breaks the symptoms as far as I am concerned. When I tend to overeat, I know I am going to send triggers and its just not worth it. Portion control has played a key role in keeping my symptoms to rest. Thanks for the heads up.

  • HessP moderator author
    5 months ago

    You’re welcome, @webdeb704! I’m glad you agree and were able to relate! Thanks for sharing and stay strong! Best – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • Cathie
    5 months ago

    I’ve been an IBSr for 45 years. Yuk. I never had much of an issue with overeating until I stopped eating gluten. Go figure. I’m starved most of the time, very stressed due to outside factors, and do overeat half the time. Hard to control it, but I’ve taken to eating slowly. Helps a little: self-discipline is tough. 🙂

  • HessP moderator author
    5 months ago

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been living with IBS for so long, @cathie! Please know many others in our community can relate. As you know, living with IBS is a constant struggle and trying to find the best way to manage certainly takes a lot of patience and discipline. You are not alone and never hesitate to reach out for support. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to read my article! Best – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

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