How to Accept Your Body While Managing IBS

It’s not easy to deal with the struggle of the strain. While flare-ups cause unwanted gastrointestinal distress, they can also wreak havoc on one’s mental health. It’s not uncommon for those with IBS who suffer from abdominal cramps, bloating, or constipation to struggle with insecurities surrounding body image. Use these tips to find inner peace with how your body looks or feels to improve overall well-being.

What is your internal dialogue?

Internal dialogue are the words used to communicate with yourself. While it can be positive or negative, it’s easy when struggling with IBS to feel defeated at times. The unwanted symptoms can spark thoughts surrounding weight, confidence, and self-worth. But as mama used to say, "if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all." The same goes for how you speak to yourself. While people are often their own harshest critics, developing a positive relationship with one’s body contributes to improved mental health. It may be easier said than done, but it all starts with recognizing that internal dialogue. And you deserve to feel good about your body!

How to promote positive self-talk

Thoughts are powerful; they can build us up or break us down. But channeling your inner positivity begins with acknowledging the way that you currently speak to yourself. Redirect negative dialogue by focusing on a quality that you love about your body. And remember, you define your own beauty, not society. Improving your internal dialogue can help boost confidence, feelings of self-efficacy, motivation, and more. Check out these ways to redirect negative self-talk to promote positivity.

  • Instead of "I can’t eat anything on a FODMAP," say, "It’s only temporary and will help me be less restrictive in the long run."
  • Instead of “I feel fat and bloated,” say, "my body is trying to tell me something."
  • Instead of "I feel like I’m gaining weight," say, "the number on the scale may not reflect my actual weight and doesn’t paint a picture of my overall health."

Unfollow to better mental health

Social media is a leading culprit to poor body image. The constant scrolling through Instagram reinforces the idea of a "perfect body" that is not relatable to most people. Most photos show women or men with similar bodies, offering little to no diversity in shapes or sizes. Research shows an association between time per day spent on social media and body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and internalizing of perceived body ideals. Avid social media users in one study were more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as eating disorders, compulsive over-exercising, and mood disorders, irrespective of body appearance.1

Be selective in who you follow. Cleaning up your social media platforms can improve your body image and mental well-being. Instead, follow profiles that are relatable or inspiring to promote gratitude and positive self-talk. Better yet, find people that openly communicate about their IBS while promoting positive vibes.

Find your support system

If you struggle with negative body image or other issues affecting your mental health, don’t be silent. Open up to someone you trust or talk to a health care provider about available resources. Don’t forget to meet with a registered dietitian to help you navigate triggers and minimize unwanted symptoms of IBS that may be negatively affecting your mental health.

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