A new year is always a good time to re-evaluate your situation and develop goals that you would like to achieve within the year. One of those goals may be improving your IBS symptoms. The following recommendations may help improve your gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Eat three regular meals a day – avoid big gaps between your meals and spread evenly throughout the day. Choosing small portion sizes may also help reduce your symptoms
- Avoid skipping meals, eating too quickly or late at night – take time to chew your food well and relax over meal times.
- Limit alcohol intake – limit to no more than two units a day and have a least two alcohol free days
- Reduce your caffeine intake – choose decaffeinated or caffeine free drinks
- Drink at least 1.5-2 litres per day – Water is the best choice and try to avoid fizzy drinks
- Cut down on rich fatty foods – these foods may increase your IBS symptoms
- Trial a probiotic for four weeks – choose a probiotic that is backed by clinical research
If your symptoms persist, despite following the above recommendations, you may wish to follow the low FODMAP diet. It is important to get support from a dietitian trained in FODMAPs. Unfortunately, I often see people following a very strict low FODMAP diet for a long period of time. The restriction phase of the low FODMAP diet should only be followed for 4-6 weeks. By limiting your food choices, you may not be getting the right amounts of micro nutrients you need.
It is so important to move on to the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet if your symptoms have improved in order to test your tolerance to various FODMAP containing foods.
Another benefit to rechallenging FODMAP foods is increasing your prebiotics intake. Many of the high FODMAP foods we avoid are naturally high in prebiotics (fibres that feed our good gut bacteria).
Remember, a Low FODMAP diet is not for life – it is imperative you test your tolerance to find your threshold.