I Have IBS and I Still Drink Alcohol…
In the summertime, I like a nice cold ‘brewski’ alongside a burger or a hotdog while enjoying an outdoor barbecue with my family. And almost every fall, I will hop on the pumpkin-spice bandwagon and buy any brand of pumpkin-flavored beer as a party gift whenever I get invited out. But guess what happens every time I enjoy these refreshing alcoholic beverages? That’s right, you guessed it - instant stomach pain! I wish I could enjoy a nice night out, drink a few beers or cocktails, and still be able to have fun without any pain settling in. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case for an IBS sufferer like myself.
Beer and IBS
When I drink alcohol, beer in particular, my symptoms escalate through the roof immediately. On many occasions, whenever I decided to drink, I’d end up having to leave early or soon after because the pain was too unbearable. If you know anything about IBS and alcohol, then it’s obvious why liquor has such a negative effect on me. Most IBS sufferers are sensitive to gluten, and beer, for example, is normally made from barley, which is a grain that contains tons of gluten! Needless to say, beer and IBS just don’t mix. On the other hand, there are certain liquors that don’t contain gluten and are not considered very detrimental to my condition. For instance, I have learned that whiskey and scotch are somewhat safe to drink for IBS sufferers because of the fact that they go through a distillation process, which separates the alcohol from the gluten. With that being said, one might be able to drink these types of liquors, but it still doesn’t mean it won’t have a negative effect. Personally, I think it depends on the type of person and whether or not they can handle the liquor.
Drink responsibly with IBS
Alcohol, in general, is known to be a toxic substance and is considered a gut-stimulant, which should technically make IBS sufferers “anti-anything-alcoholic”. However, like most people who drink alcohol, I like to let loose every once in a while, even though I know the pain is coming. I’m only human and to be honest, drinking is a major social activity where I’m from, so I decide to live a little (sue me!). However, I never drink excessively and I am very careful with what and how I drink (which kind of sounds like something an alcoholic would say). Regardless, as an IBS sufferer, I have to be because if I do drink recklessly, I suffer NOT just the day after, but for WEEKS after, and I rather not have to go through that kind of pain. So if or when I do drink, I make sure to stay away from beer as much as possible and my limit is three drinks if that. Also, whenever I do decide to drink, I do so when I’m at my home (which sounds boring, I know), but it’s so that I am closer to my own personal bathroom and I don’t have to worry about taking too long. But if I do decide to drink at an event elsewhere, then my wife and I will come to a compromise and she will refrain from drinking and be the designated driver on the way back home.
At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing the right time to drink, but also being aware of the consequences. If you are fully aware of your decision to drink and you know how it affects your IBS, then there should be no complaints as a result. We all strive to enjoy life, even if it means planning to deal with the pain that comes after. There will always be obstacles and hardships to face, physical or emotional, but we are stronger than we think and it’s up to us to have the WILLPOWER to be happy. So yes, I have IBS and I still drink occasionally, but I do so responsibly.
Do you think there is enough awareness of IBS?