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How to Handle IBS FOMO

The fear of missing out, also known as FOMO, can be a too true experience when struggling with IBS. Whether it’s out with friends, at a family function, or at a work event, nobody wants to feel like they did not get the whole experience. While you may get tempted to adopt the "YOLO" mentality—enjoying food without restrictions because you only live once, it is often not without consequences. But you do not need to choose between missing out on the fun and sticking to your health goals. Check out these must-know tips for dealing with external temptations while managing IBS.

What makes today enjoyable with IBS?

It’s a question that I ask many clients who struggle to stick to their gut-friendly lifestyle within social settings. While some people’s choices may waver because of peer pressure or fear of getting judged, others just want the perceived real-deal experience. But remember to eat for yourself. After all, it’s YOUR gut that experiences the repercussions. Would you enjoy yourself any less if you ordered a gut-friendly dish? If anything, you will have more fun knowing that the night doesn’t involve a ticking clock that may end in a bathroom emergency. So, remember what makes your evenings truly enjoyable to help better manage your IBS. Memories. Laughter. Connections. It’s all about shifting your focus!

FOMO Tip: Take a break from social media

Instagram is the ringleader for creating feelings of FOMO. After all, nobody posts about Netflix and chill eating dairy-free ice cream to avoid the bloat because milk hurts their stomach. Instead, it’s all about lavish restaurants and experiences that make them the envy of your news feed. Since the rise of Instagram, restaurants have also pivoted to creating dishes specifically designed to gain social media attention—often through magnified portions, colorful ingredients, and picturesque presentations. But endless scrolling through pictures of food that may promote gastrointestinal distress can be mentally draining and saddening for people struggling with IBS. However, you are far from alone. There is substantial evidence that shows an association between social media use and a decline in mental health and body image acceptance.1 So, do your brain a favor and take a step back from social media platforms. Not sure how to initiate a disconnect? Check out these tips below.

Set an alarm!

This handy phone feature can do more than simply wake you up in the morning. Use it as an evening reminder to put your phone away. Plus, eliminating nightly scrolling can help minimize blue-light exposure—ultimately contributing to better sleep quality. Talk about a win-win!

Minimize phone use

While it may seem counter-intuitive, some apps actually help you minimize phone use! While it can be tempting to keep up with your friend’s "pizza tour of NYC" or your favorite restaurant's new ooey-gooey mac and cheese, it's best to take a social media rest. Set your screen-time allotment and stick to it!

FOMO Tip: Practice gratitude

Instead of FOMO, embrace JOMO—the joy of missing out! Skipping the gastrointestinal distress caused by deviations from your habitual eating habits is an experience worth missing. But don’t get it twisted. It doesn’t mean you have to stay home and miss out on the fun! Instead, it’s about finding happiness, gratitude, and appreciation for feeling your best while having experiences you value. Growing up, my mother often told me "it could be worse," which at times may seems it devalues the problem. But it does help shift focus from the bad to what’s good. While it doesn’t take away from the challenges of managing IBS, the idea is to spark an appreciation elsewhere, such as work, family life, safety, what you can eat and enjoy, and overall health. Finding ways to say thanks for all the good stuff and sharing your successes is a way to boost everyday happiness.

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