Whilst everyone’s triggers for IBS are different, it often involves cutting out a few fruit and veggies. It can be really difficult to make sure you’re getting your 5 a day when you have IBS so here’s some ways to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need even during a flare up.
- Find fruits and vegetables that don’t trigger a flare up. I consider these my “safe” foods and for me it’s carrots, tomatoes, runner beans, strawberries and raspberries. This may vary from person to person but you need to test your own IBS to find safe foods.
- Learn about FODMAP diets and which foods are low FODMAP. Being on a low FODMAP diet doesn’t work for everyone but using it as a guide can help you to work out which fruits and vegetables could be safe for you.
- Try to cook dishes containing vegetables from scratch rather than ready meals. This way you have better control over which vegetables are in your meals and can avoid causing an accidental flare ups. For example, I can’t eat onions or garlic because of my IBS – even a tiny amount will trigger a flare up. Cooking pasta sauce, ratatouille or soup from scratch means that I can leave them out and still add other vegetables to the dish that are safe for me.
- Find a protein source that works for you. This especially applies if you are vegetarian like me. Since being diagnosed with IBS I’ve struggled with soya – small amounts seem to be fine (such as soya lecithin) but tofu or soya flour are a big no for me. That eliminated a big protein source for me. Luckily, unlike some people with IBS, I can tolerate nuts and use cashew butter and raw cashews a lot in my cooking to add protein to my meals. Others with IBS struggle with dairy. Again, luckily I am fine with these. Find a protein source that works for you.
- Remember that what others may consider “healthy” isn’t necessarily healthy for you. A good example of this is fibre. The general word on fibre is to eat as much of it as you can – it’s pushed into our collective minds throughout school and from relatives. For someone with IBS-D like me, fibre is a big issue. My stomach can tolerate a certain amount of fibre but eating any high fibre foods such as lentils, beans, psyllium husk etc. will guarantee a flare up. Just because those foods are healthy for those with normal gut health, it’s not healthy for someone with IBS to stick to a high fibre diet if it’s going to result in constant pain and flare ups.
There are many ways to be healthy and I hope some of this advice is useful to those of you still figuring out how to live with IBS. Don’t forget you can always e-mail me if you need specific dietary advise but remember that I am not a qualified dietitian or doctor and can only speak from my own experiences.
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