My doctor just diagnosed me as having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I tend to get constipated and need to eat more fiber. I also sometimes get cramps after eating my dinner. Any insight?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that affects up to 20 percent of American adults. It ranks up on the top ten most frequently diagnosed illnesses by doctors in the US, and it is estimated to plague women three times more often than men. IBS sufferers can experience cramping, flatulence (gas), and bloating as well as constipation and diarrhea, or even worse, both. (Talk about having both ends of the spectrum.) Individuals with IBS tend to a have a more sensitive colon that can react and spasm to stimuli, such as stress and certain foods that typically wouldn’t bother other individuals. Caffeine, for example, may cause stools to become loose in many individuals and can be especially jolting for those with IBS.
You are smart to finger fiber as the substance that can help ward off constipation. To increase the fiber in your diet, look to whole grains, fruit, and veggies. As you begin to eat more roughage, make sure that you add plenty of fluids to help the fiber move things along in your system, so to speak. To avoid a fiber overload in your body, you may want to gradually increase the roughage in your diet until you find a comfortable level to eliminate the constipation.
Since eating causes the colon to contract, it’s not uncommon for you to experience some cramps after you break bread in the evening. Often times, the intensity of the post-dinner symptoms are related to the size of the meal and the amount of fat in it. Since a large feast and/or fatty foods may provide more discomfort, you may want to consider eating smaller meals throughout the day and trimming some of the excess fat in your diet. Fatty cuts of meat, whole milk dairy products, and foods swimming in oil, margarine or butter could be trimmed by using lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, nonfat or low-fat dairy products and by using less added fat.
You may also want to keep a food journal or record to uncover if there are any particular foods that are classic offenders for you. For example, some individuals may find it a bit of a challenge tolerating dairy foods because of the milk sugar (lactose). Yet these folks may be able to enjoy yogurt that contains active cultures, which can help breakdown the lactose and improve its digestion. Click here for more on lactose intolerance. If, after keeping a journal, you notice that there are several foods or entire food group(s) that don’t sit well with you, you may want to sit down with a registered dietitian to develop a diet strategy that suits not only your colon but also your daily nutrition needs.