By Heather Van Vorous, 10/17/18
We've all been there. There are some days when it seems like everything you eat triggers an IBS attack. This is not your imagination; when your IBS is raging, your gastrocolic reflex can be so sensitive that simply drinking water can trigger dysfunctional colon contractions and IBS symptoms.
IBS diarrhea and pain should resolve in just a few days. IBS constipation, especially if it's been chronic, can take several weeks once you've calmed down your gut so please hang in there.
The best thing to do to break the cycle of IBS is to really restrict your diet for a few days to nothing but soluble fiber foods and soluble fiber supplements, and lots of strong hot peppermint tea (if you're prone to acid reflux, try fennel or chamomile or anise instead of the mint).
Peppermint is a powerful muscle relaxant and a great IBS painkiller. Fennel is the best for IBS bloating and gas - it can really, tremendously help.
Try to be mildly active, even if just around the house, as gentle exercise will work the muscles of the bowels and help get them back into a pattern of normal contractions. Walking or stretching or an easy yoga practice is ideal. Exercise is especially crucial for IBS constipation.
Soluble fiber foods and supplements will stabilize the GI contractions that are going haywire with IBS and causing pain, and will normalize bowel function from either extreme (diarrhea AND constipation). So stick to foods like plain white rice, oatmeal, pasta, white breads, peeled potatoes, etc. Boring, I know, but it's just a few days. Make sure you've added in a prebiotic soluble fiber supplement like Acacia Tummy Fiber, too - this is crucial for getting IBS under control.
After a few days, you should be feeling much better, and your gut contractions will have stabilized. IBS diarrhea should have resolved though IBS constipation may well take a while longer. At this point, start carefully expanding your diet with insoluble fiber, by blending fresh fruits into smoothie drinks, or blending cooked veggies into pasta sauces or soups to serve over white rice.
The Eating for IBS diet recipes for zucchini, banana, and pumpkin breads work well here, and so does the jok rice porridge soup. Add in a little low fat soy/rice/oat milk to your oatmeal, and have a bit of grilled fish or skinless chicken breast with pasta or rice. Good examples of IBS safe treats are the Eating for IBS recipes for Will's dreamy lemon rice pudding, vanilla or chocolate silk puddings, peppermint fudge cake, and banana cream pie.
Keep your fat content very low and be extra careful as you start to incorporate the insoluble fiber. As you stay stable, you can expand to all the other IBS recipes, follow the general IBS diet guidelines (still low fat, no trigger foods, careful with insoluble fiber), and you'll be back to a healthy diet overall and not just plain soluble fiber. You should always continue to make soluble fiber the basis of your IBS diet, though, and have those foods as the foundation of your meals and snacks. Continue the soluble fiber supplements on a daily basis as well. Remember, it's the soluble fiber that is key to normalizing a spastic colon and preventing IBS symptoms in the first place.
Safe Foods To Eat for IBS When You Can't Eat Anything
* White breads (such as French or sourdough), not whole wheat or multi-grain
* Cold fat-free cereal such as Corn Chex, Kix, Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, Honeycomb, or Corn Pops, eaten dry. At all costs avoid bran, granola, and whole wheat choices, as well as cereals with raisins, other dried fruits, or nuts
* Homemade dried or fresh bananas
* Plain cooked pasta (not egg), sprinkled with a little salt
* Lots and lots of medicinal strength, high volatile oil, hot peppermint, fennel, chamomile, or ginger tea
Take immediate control of your IBS symptoms with the IBS Diet Kit.