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Eating with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Symptoms, Treatment, and Tips
  -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
Imagine experiencing severe abdominal pain, along with alternating bouts of both constipation and diarrhea. Even worse, your doctor can find no physical explanation or effective treatment for you, despite these very real symptoms. Unfortunately, this is a very real scenario for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Symptoms & Diagnosis
Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, feeling bloated, flatulence or gas, diarrhea and/or constipation, and mucus in the stool.

When you have IBS, diagnostic tests typically reveal no physical abnormalities in the colon that might explain your symptoms. So, IBS is usually diagnosed by a process of elimination. A diagnosis is made after symptoms have been continuous or recurrent for at least 3 months and other diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) have been ruled out.

When managing IBS, experts have seen much greater treatment success when the "team approach", which includes a physician, dietitian, and psychiatrist/psychologist, is implemented.

Because food, eating, and cooking habits can be very complex, SparkPeople strongly suggests that you see a qualified dietitian for both nutrition and diet therapy. Making different food choices and changing eating habits can help with symptom relief, but it's important to determine what works for each individual.

Therefore, keeping a diary is vital. Use it to record when symptoms occur, what you ate around the time of the occurrence, as well as activities and emotional feelings. This diary will help everyone—you, the dietitian, and other health professionals together—to both identify specific concerns and also to develop an appropriate plan. <pagebreak>

General Eating Tips
Tips for Eating Fiber
Possible Trigger Foods
The following foods are sometimes bothersome to those with IBS. It is a good idea to monitor your tolerance for these foods (not to eliminate all of the foods listed). You may want to pick one food below that you eat frequently, remove it from your menu for 2 weeks and see if there is a difference in symptoms. Then reintroduce the food and see what happens. You should experiment with only one food at a time and in small portion sizes. Other Healthy Habits