For many IBS sufferers, the road to a positive diagnosis can be long and extremely frustrating. Diagnosis can be a huge relief and it focuses what you need to do to manage symptoms. Beyond medical treatment, this comes down to changing the way you live for the better – eating better, getting the right exercise and developing helpful habits. This section offers guidance to help you make that lifestyle change.
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When most people think of an IBS attack, it usually centers on rushing to the loo. But IBS isn’t all about diarrhoea; IBS attacks can consist of cramping pain with both IBS-D and IBS-C. Whatever kind of attack you might experience, the effect can be days spent suffering indoors. Whatever the cause, avoiding or eating certain foods during an attack can help soothe symptoms. These are tools to calm your stomach that just happen to be foods. They’re what to do when IBS strikes, not magic tricks.
When you have an IBS attack, you may want to stop eating completely. Don’t: it’s not a healthy solution and could exacerbate the attack. Rather eat small frequent meals so that you don’t stretch your stomach and overstimulate gut reflexes. A sensitive bowel tolerates smaller meals better because there’s less rapid movement of intestinal contents. So, when you eat, chew your food slowly and thoroughly. (Chewing 30+ times per bite improves digestion). Plus it’ll make you feel full more quickly so you’ll eat less and won’t overeat.
If you’re really struggling, remember “BRATTY”: bananas, rice, apples, toast, tea, and yogurt. All these foods can soothe the symptoms of an IBS attack. Eat white bread (it can help absorb intestinal fluids) and plain, sugar-free organic yogurt for beneficial bacteria. BRATTY should work for all types of IBS.
During an IBS attack there’s the temptation to just lie down. But this may not be the best option. Once you feel a little less fragile, try to go for a short walk after eating. This is particularly helpful for IBS-C sufferers because it can help keep things moving. Just 10 to 15 minutes is enough to get your juices flowing and your bowels moving. Make walking after meals a regular habit, it’ll surprise you how much it helps.