Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine. Individuals with IBS can suffer from unpredictable pain or discomfort that can often be disabling. Fortunately, IBS is not a life-threatening disease and it can be managed daily by proper care such as healthy food choices. Your registered dietitian can recommend a variety of healthy food options that will make living with IBS easier.
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Nutrition and IBS
Consuming a diet that includes fiber on a daily basis can help manage constipation and other symptoms associated with IBS, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In addition to high-fiber foods, low-fat food options may also be easier to tolerate for IBS patients. Food tolerances will vary depending on your exact condition. For instance, some people might be sensitive to dairy products while others can consume dairy regularly without any problems. It is important to gradually introduce new foods into your diet to monitor any possible complications. Fiber is found in a variety of foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Low-fat food options may be lean meats, fish, skinless poultry and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Any nutritious, high-fiber and low-fat option can be great for lunch at work or on the go. If you love sandwiches, try any lean meat or poultry topped with greens, vegetables or hummus on a whole-grain bread. You can choose from a variety of high-fiber breads such as 100 percent whole-wheat bread, bran or pumpernickel. Some great sides for any sandwich include high-fiber fruits such as apple slices, raisins, figs or berries. Other high-fiber lunch options include whole-grain pasta with mixed vegetables or brown rice with beans. A variety of soups can also be enjoyed for lunch such as lentil or split pea soup with a whole-grain roll on the side. Some acceptable snacks to enjoy before or after lunch include mixed nuts, fresh fruit, popcorn or whole-grain cereal. Any combination of those foods will be a great way to increase your fiber daily at lunch.
Fluids are necessary for healthy digestion. The NIDDK recommends you consume at least six glasses of water daily. Non-acidic fruit juices, decaf teas and sport drinks are also acceptable beverages to consume at lunch. Certain beverages such as soda, coffee, energy drinks or any other highly caffeinated beverages should be avoided. Alcohol may also lead to complications for IBS patients and should be avoided.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System recommends that you aim for 20 to 35 g of dietary fiber daily. If you are starting a high-fiber diet, you must gradually increase it over time to prevent complications such as gas or cramping. Consume four or five smaller meals throughout the day rather than only three large meals. Keep a food journal so that you can log your daily food intake and identify any potential problem-causing food.