Irritable Bowel Syndrome means just that; your bowels are behaving irritably and erratically. Weight gain and IBS can be tricky due to the unpredictable nature of your bowels. Some days you have diarrhea and are sprinting to the bathroom while tomorrow you may be drinking laxative shakes to relieve constipation. There is one thing that is not erratic, however, and that is the known triggers that irritate your bowels and lead to weight gain, including lack of exercise and certain nutritional choices. Specifically, certain foods can cause bloating and pain and should be avoided in known cases of IBS.
Bloating and Weight Gain
Feel like you just swallowed a watermelon? IBS can make you feel like that. When your bowels get agitated, or have difficulty digesting a food you ate, they retain water and gases are released. This combination makes your stomach appear swollen which can be uncomfortable as well as embarrassing. Instead of leaving your pants unbuttoned, try to avoid the foods and substances that trigger a bout of IBS. Cabbage, beans and carbonated beverages are some of the worst gas-producing things that you can put in your bowels. You will find that if you decrease the bloat, you will decrease the water weight that is frequently associated with IBS weight gain.
Eat Your Fiber
Foods that get stuck in your bowels can add to the bloating problem and cause a significant weight gain as well. High fiber foods are inexpensive and an excellent way to decrease IBS constipation. Try adding naturally occurring fiber to your diet, as it is gentle and easy for your body to digest. Man-made fibers, such as certain pills and shakes, can be a little harder to digest but will still have the fiber benefit if diet change is not an option for you. High fiber foods are usually easy on your wallet as well; a loaf of wheat bread or a cereal with bran is not going to cost you that much.
The best thing to know about an IBS diet is that there is no "one size fits all" plan. What works for your neighbor with IBS may not work well for you. This does not include the known trigger foods, which should be avoided by one and all. A number of substances can be eliminated or reduced in your diet. Red meats, caffeine and artificial sweeteners are common causes behind the cramping and pain of IBS. Learning what your personal triggers are will take some time and a lot of patience. Keep a notebook handy and write down what you had to eat each day along with your bowel function. In no time at all you should be able to locate a pattern like, "Every time I ate black olives I cramped," and avoid those foods in the future.
Increased Fitness Equals Decreased Irritability
Once you've stopped the colas and bean burritos, it's time for the last step associated with IBS weight control. Increase your fitness, muscle tone and endurance. Decrease your stress level with a little early morning walk followed by some Pilates. This will have two benefits--first you will increase your abdominal muscle tone and decrease your IBS irritability. Second, you may not need that massive mug of caffeine (also an IBS trigger) to wake you up; the physical activity will get your endorphins pumping instead.