When you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may as well leave out the “bowel.” A stomach that’s always upset gives you plain “irritable syndrome.” However, you’ll be glad to hear that as irritating as IBS is, there are plenty of things you can do to make your life more comfortable. Try these eight tips to help control the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:
- Eat by the clock. Eat modest meals at set times since big servings can cause cramping and diarrhea. Experts say smaller portions, more frequently, will help regulate your digestive system and won’t overload your stomach.
- Slow down. Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days, so mealtime may be a short affair. However, gulping your food increases the chances that you may gulp air, too, so slow down and enjoy your meal.
- Another typical time for IBS symptoms to appear is early in the morning when you’ve rushed to an important meeting or appointment. Try waking up an extra 30 minutes early so you can have a relaxing morning. Build in time to listen to a stress reduction tape or go for a short walk.
- Don’t get ill from pills. Watch out for drugs or herbs whose side effects include stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or other digestive problems. Read the labels on packages and bottles, and read any inserts or fact sheets that come with your prescription drugs.
- Listen to your body. You can teach yourself control over your gut reactions using biofeedback. First, find a trained professional to teach you what to do. He will hook you up to a monitor that tracks your body’s response to various conditions. Then you’ll learn what mental and physical changes make you relax. Eventually you can reproduce this response anywhere on your own.
- Schedule updates. If you’re keeping an IBS journal to track your symptoms, eating habits, and activities, you’ve taken a powerful step toward settling your symptoms. Of course, your best bet for figuring out which foods or activities are linked to your symptoms is to keep that diary updated. Schedule a time every day – or every other day – to update your journal. That way you’re more likely to keep the thorough record that can help you root out those trouble triggers.
- Work it out. Exercise will help your intestines work better. It also relaxes you and gets rid of the stress and tension that affect your stomach.
- Catch up on your Zzzzs. Do whatever you must to get a good night’s sleep. Unplug the phone, wear earplugs, or take a warm bath to help you settle down. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed ¬probably a good idea anyway if you have IBS – since these can interfere with your sleep. And shoot for eight hours of shut-eye every night.
- Don’t irritate your insides. Skip tobacco and alcohol. Kick out the caffeine that can painfully stimulate your bowels, too.
By observing the abovementioned dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes, you can be sure to dodge the discomfort brought by IBS.