How To Make Your Meals IBS-Friendly
One might think that once you figured out all of your trigger foods and stick plainly to safe foods, IBS should settle down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.
From my experience, I’ve found that the wrong combination and/or quantity of safe foods can trigger a flare-up all the same. Safe foods aren’t really safe – they’re merely less triggering if consumed the right way.
Below, I’ve compiled a couple of tips that help me make my meals IBS-friendly. Just remember that all of these are based on my own personal experience with IBS-D. It’s important to tailor anything to your specific IBS.
Beauty lies in simplicity
If I were to compile all of my safe foods and eat a little bit of each in one sitting, I would almost immediately end up with a flare-up. My gut is super sensitive and reacts strongly to everything I put in it. So, the meals I consume better be simple.
Instead of eating a 3-course meal, I prefer sticking to one single course that only consists of a couple of ingredients. Examples that work well for me are rice with salmon or rice with chicken. When in doubt, these are always my go-to meals.
Don’t make it too saucy
Just like piling on ingredients triggers my IBS, sauces don’t sit well with me either. First of all, they’re liquid, and I prefer to give my IBS-D something solid to digest. And second of all, they usually consist of a bunch of ingredients, some of which are bound to be triggers.
While I don’t recommend eating store-bought sauces at all, I’m also pretty skeptical about homemade ones that weren’t prepared by me. People tend to put so much stuff in there!
Usually, I use salt and pepper instead of a sauce. And when I really feel like my meal needs one, I tend to just put a bit of soy milk and herbs in there to make it less dry. It sounds kind of gross, but it’s really not!
Watch the acidity
Generally speaking, foods with high acidity qualify as trigger foods for me. My IBS-D just doesn’t like them! But there are some exceptions. For example, I finally figured out that can eat tomatoes – as long as I don’t eat too much. And as long as they’re not in a sauce. (Tomato paste is my worst enemy.)
The rule, however, is to always eat something beforehand to balance out the acidity. If I’m about to have a tomato mozzarella salad, I’ll always have some plain carbs first.
I would say though that if you prefer not taking any risks at all, it’s best to stay away from acid foods altogether. Whenever I have to leave the comfort of my home office, I just don’t eat them.
Forget about 5 fruits and vegetables a day
I’ve fallen into the trap of wanting to eat traditionally healthy way too many times. Everyone and everything keeps telling you that the only healthy choices are fruits and vegetables. But I just can’t eat a plant-based diet. It sends me right back into the flare-up hole that I spend so much effort to get out of.
Of course, I still try to eat some vegetables and fruits. But I make sure to pick the ones that have the least effect on me. And to always balance them out with plenty of safe foods.
My favorite choices are zucchini and spinach, in case you’re interested. And when it comes to fruit, red berries work best for me – while peaches and nectarines really don’t.
What are your tips for making meals more IBS-friendly?
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?