Managing Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Nutrition

August 01, 2017

By Saba Zahid, RD
Patient Experience Manager, Dietary Services

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a frustrating disorder to live with. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder meaning it occurs when your GI system behaves in an abnormal way without evidence of damage due to a disease. Unfortunately, IBS is a chronic disorder, but symptoms may come and go.

IBS is a group of symptoms occurring together, including pain or discomfort in your stomach and changes in bowel movement. However, how these symptoms manifest can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience constipation more often, some experience diarrhea, and some experience both.

While there is no cure for IBS, you can manage symptoms through diet, medications, probiotics, and mental health therapies. Choosing the right foods and keeping track of symptoms after you eat foods can help you determine trigger foods and avoid them. 

Some foods that make cramping and bloating symptoms worse include high-fat foods, some milk products, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, artificially sweetened foods, and foods that cause gas, such as beans and cabbage. These foods should be limited as much as possible.

Eating smaller portions or eating smaller meals more often can help reduce cramping and diarrhea symptoms. Choosing foods lower in fat will also be helpful. Fiber can also be helpful in improving constipation symptoms but it may not necessarily reduce the abdominal discomfort of IBS. If you are not used to a high fiber diet, increase your fiber intake slowly so your body has time to get used to the additional fiber.

Because IBS symptoms vary greatly from person to person, it is always helpful to work with a registered dietitian. A registered dietitian can help you determine your trigger foods and help guide you towards food choices that will reduce your IBS symptoms. Schedule an outpatient nutrition counseling appointment today with the registered dietitians at Shore Medical Center. For more information, contact us at 609-653-4600, opt 5.