What Is the Mental Impact of IBS Restrictive Diets?
Last updated: June 2023
My diet has been fairly severely restricted for over 5 weeks now. I went from a liquid diet to a soft food diet and am stuck on still mostly soft foods at the moment. The restrictions took a physical toll, of course. After dealing with restrictions for so long, it is taking a mental toll.
Anyone who has IBS has dealt with dietary issues. All of it takes an emotional toll on you because it is a lot to deal with on a daily basis. I am used to that because I have been dealing with IBS for over 2 decades now. This is different for me. I have never been on such a restrictive diet for so long.
Craving foods I cannot have
We have all been there. It seems like we often crave what we cannot have during flares. It does not matter that it is not a favorite food or even something we do not eat often. We seem to suddenly develop a craving.
I am not a big hamburger or pizza fan. Some of you likely gasped when you read that. These popular foods have never topped my list of favorites, yet I find myself craving them now simply because they are on the list of things I cannot have. The cravings for foods I do not like are bad, but cravings for foods I really like are insanely strong.
Fasting when I want to be feasting
I am not technically fasting, but I feel like I am not far from it at times. I feel like I deserve a feast. Honestly, a feast is needed. My weight tends to border on underweight so I rarely have a few pounds to spare. I was becoming concerned in the beginning and had to start supplementing with nutritional drinks to slow down weight loss.
Moving beyond a liquid diet helped, but I am still not eating balanced meals. It is hard to do with so many limitations. I am still supplementing with nutritional drinks and taking vitamin supplements but the hunger persists. I want my favorite foods. Scratch that. I want all the foods--even the foods I do not really like.
My mind is at the dinner table
After so many weeks, I feel like I am always thinking of food. Food has invaded my dreams. I am fixated on food. I previously discussed struggling with fasting. This is so much worse than a day or two of fasting. Emotionally, I am feeling a bit off because of it all.
Our diet is a huge part of our daily life. There is a reason why we refer to certain foods as comfort foods. Food is powerful. We reach for certain foods during certain moods. It comforts us. It warms us. We feel better after eating our favorite foods. This restrictive diet has left me feeling empty both physically and emotionally.
Restrictive diets drastically lessen quality of life
This is more than a physical issue. There is a mental impact when coping with a restrictive diet for more than a short time. If you have IBS, you have likely had someone suggest you could solve all your problems by maintaining a strict diet and avoiding trigger foods permanently. This has been suggested to me as a solution or cure to my IBS woes many times over the years.
Avoiding certain foods or maintaining a very restricted diet takes its toll on a person. Anyone who is capable of doing such is a much stronger person than I. The mental anguish of coping with chronic cravings every day is very real. Watching other people enjoy whatever food they wish is agony.
IBS causes mental anguish
Anyone condition, ailment, or syndrome that restricts your diet causes mental anguish. Long-term dietary restrictions affect quality of life. If you have IBS, have ever fasted, or have ever dealt with dietary restrictions then you understand the toll it takes on your mental health. We are hungry, and hunger affects us in more than a physical manner.
Have you experienced issues with fasting or diets? How did you cope with these issues? I would love to hear about your experience.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?