Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that leads to changes in bowel movements, resulting in either constipation, diarrhea, or both. IBS is not life-threatening, but it can lead to other severe health conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or colon cancer if not treated in time. Many IBS patients experience abdominal pain and cramps that can affect their daily routine. Constipation, bloating, diarrhea, pain and cramps, and food intolerance are some common symptoms.
Along with medication, following some diet tips for IBS and introducing certain lifestyle changes is important to deal with the condition effectively. One of the ways to manage it is to follow an elimination diet.
1. What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet helps you identify foods that trigger or aggravate the existing symptoms of IBS. By following this diet, you can systematically identify and eliminate the trigger foods. Nuts, coffee, insoluble fiber, foods with gluten, and dairy products are some of the common trigger foods for IBS, and the elimination diet is one of the most effective diet tips to identify them.
2. Things to do before you start an elimination diet
Before you commence the elimination diet, ensure the following:
- Maintain a food diary
Keep a record of the foods that you eat and how you feel after eating them, including any symptoms experienced.
- Plan what food to eliminate
To assess food sensitivities, start with one food item and eliminate it from your diet.
- Keep your kitchen stocked
It takes time to identify the reactive food items, so ensure that you have enough food choices that are easy to digest and less reactive.
3. The elimination phase
You need to check your food diary to determine which food item you may be intolerant to. Once you identify the harmful food, you need to plan a duration that you can eliminate it for. The longer the elimination phase, the more positive the results will be, but keep in mind that elimination cannot be forever. It is essential to reintroduce the eliminated food to identify whether it is a trigger.
4. The reintroduction phase
At the end of the elimination phase, you need to slowly reintroduce the eliminated food item in your diet. For example, you can have it twice a week in a smaller amount and observe the difference for those days. If you experience any symptoms, it means that particular food is a trigger. If not, you can start the elimination diet with another food item. This trial and error method is one of the best diet tips to identify trigger foods for IBS.
Apart from the elimination diet, following a low-fat diet is another helpful diet tip for IBS. Consumption of high-fat food contributes to obesity, which, in turn, leads to IBS-related constipation, whereas opting for a low-fat diet helps avoid uncomfortable bowel symptoms and improves heart health as well.