My viewpoint is that IBS is a dysfunctional pattern of peristalsis, when the normal waves of action that move material from mouth to potty become spasmodic and when food is ejected before the small intestine has fully digested it. It can include sensitivity to trigger foods, but the syndrome has far more to do with learned patterns of eating/elimination and being physically agitated over things. Eating for IBS need NOT be bland-- it isn't the heat of any spices that sets it off, and some spices actually help.
IBS is not food allergy. It is very important to move beyond the mindset that you "just can't" eat certain foods, unless they have been individually and specifically determined to be true allergies. In a true allergy, even a small amount is dangerous. IBS is sensitivity, not allergy. When you have IBS, you are not a forever-victim. You're more likely to be a healthy person who needs to resolve a stuck habit that's inadvertently been reinforced by countless repetitions. That is not
to say that ithe problem is all in your mind-- but it is
important to know that much of the solution
is in your mind, at your disposal. You CAN change the phenomenon.
A happy gut, in recovery from IBS, is a gut comfortably full of soluble fiber-- so the muscle walls can have something to hold into, and a happy mass that will absorb the spasms at the site where they occur, and not be passed down along the gut forcing ejection. Like a tunnel full of fluffy pillows would absorb shockwaves.
IBS can debilitate you fast, and severely. I ended up chairbound, as a result of IBS in combination with over-medicated high blood pressure. (At the peak, my worst trigger was water, so imagine the dehydration!) It took 2 years' agressive rehab to get a grip on being alive again. (Search my posts to see a description of the 6-month adrenal/cortisol recovery program that started my rehab.)
It is very
worth treating, and for many people, getting it handled reveals a whole lot about your life that is very good to explore. Treating it, and recovering from it, requires that we drop almost all of the conventional wisdom about dieting, so do not
try to do both at the same time!
What I did for starters (I call it Level 1) Increase water-soluble fiber:
Oats in any form;, rolled and cooked are best.
Oat bars (if low in sugars)
Oat bread (it will be oat/wheat flour, but NOT whole wheat
Oat bran (look in the cooked cereals dept. where the cream of wheat is), added to anything
Boiled/baked potatoes, mashed potatoes (no butter)
Sweet potatoes-- baked till very soft, plain with salt optional, no butter. Pumpkin (low-sugar pumpkin pie is GREAT for this medicinally)
Oat/sweet potato bread is great, so is pumpkin bread.
White rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice
Pasta, cooked well; small varieties like orzo or couscous are best to start
Corn chips, corn tortillas, popcorn (Yes, dry popcorn! Amazing but yes!) Small amounts to start, chewed slowly.
Be sure to sip water as these are eaten, and between. Dried-up stuck poop is not going to help, a bit. Picture the inside of your gut holding a nice bowl of somewhat firm oatmeal-- that's what you want in there. That's why it has to be water-soluble fiber
, not just "fiber." Increase digestive-aiding spices:
Cumin (a powerful anti-spasmodic)
Mexican food (avoid fats)
Indian food (avoid fats) Increase helpful forms of dairy:
Cheddar cheese Increase helpful habits:
Keep half a loaf of oat bread in the car.
Eat a slice of oat bread before each meal, chewing slowly, and sipping water to keep up with the starch.
Eat a slice of oat bread about 20 minutes after each explosion, chewing very slowly and sipping water. Decrease trigger foods:
Varies by individual. For some folks it's tomatoes, coffee, milk, SUGAR, vinegar, fats, fried chicken-- often, it's just what we crave. You will know your triggers when you feel good on the oat bread but then add something else and explode in short order. I started with just oat bread and weak tea for several days, and then reintrodiced foods one by one till I could spot the triggers and say goodbye to those dear old friends for awhile.) Decrease trigger habits:
Don't eat fast.
Don't eat too much at a time. Don't get empty--
keep nibbling plain oat bread between meals.
Don't rush around after eating.
There are trigger SMELLS. Avoid them!
In general, settle the hell down. Go to Level II when the above is not enough:
Use Immodium as directed and preventively, but not exceeding specified dosage.
Carry a small bottle of cumin (grocery spice shelf) and sniff at it when things start to feel uneasy down there. A vial of Essential Oil of Cumin ($5-10) is better but pretty smelly-- you can get it at the health store's aromatherapy dept. You will FEEL the tense gut relax like a string has popped, and avoid a lot of nasty explosions. (Look in aromatherapy research-- it's a powerful anti-spasmodic) Any explosion you can head off is one more brain cell retrained that you need not explode every time you eat. Level III
When this approach is not enough, document everything you have tried and take that to the doc, and request a prescription anti-spasmodic to add to the above. If all of that doesn't work,
it's time to consider stress medication to interrupt this terribly debilitating cycle.
Whatever level one is at, this can resolve amazingly quickly if you follow the above regimen. It's also possible to slip on the regimen, especially at first, and be right back where you were-- till your brain learns a new set of signals to send your gut.
AVOID till you're well:
Whole wheat bread
Fibrous greens & veg Once you feel you have it managed--
Here is the amazing truth: Once you are doing really well you can
even start adding back in some of the trigger foods and habits, as long as you keep the oats and other water-soluble starches coming in.
If you have retrained your gut and the connections in the brain to trust the eating process again, you absolutely should be able to add back in small amounts of your favorite foods, unless they are true allergies for you.