First, let’s define IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder impacting the large intestine. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of symptoms. The good news for IBS sufferers is that in many cases, symptoms can be controlled by making lifestyle modifications, reducing stress, and managing diet.
At Main Line Nutrition, we are often asked “What is the best diet for IBS sufferers?” Additionally, sometimes patients are seeking to control their symptoms while simultaneously wondering how to lose weight with IBS. Here is a step-by-step process to accomplish both goals.
1. Get your symptoms under control
Poor gut health can negatively impact your ability to lose weight. That’s why controlling your IBS is an important first step in maintaining proper body weight. Start by working with a Registered Dietitian to find the root cause of digestive issues, then formulate a plan that helps alleviate symptoms. Main Line Nutrition has dietitians who are specially trained in the use of a low FODMAP diet for IBS. FODMAPs are types of short-chain carbohydrates found in certain foods, and they can exacerbate IBS symptoms. A low FODMAP diet is just one option to consider in your treatment plan.
2. Up your veggies
Vegetables add bulk to fill you up with fewer calories. Work towards filling half your plate with veggies at lunch and dinner. Vegetables are also prebiotics, meaning they feed the good bacteria in your gut, aiding digestion. If you are on a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to slowly add more fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Working with a Registered Dietitian ensures you do this the right way, to avoid triggering IBS symptoms.
3. Eat the right amount of calories and macros
Factors like age and physical activity impact the amount of calories and macros you need to properly fuel your body, without storing excess energy. A well-balanced diet can help keep IBS symptoms at bay while ensuring your calories and macros are on track.
4. Add in physical activity
The goal is 30 minutes of cardio per day and two to three weight-bearing exercise sessions per week. Start slow. Find out what works best for your IBS symptoms through trial and error. And remember, some weeks are busier than others. Even if you can’t meet all your fitness goals in a given week, some level of physical activity is always better than none.
5. Manage flare-ups
Things are going great, you feel amazing, and then something triggers your IBS symptoms. That’s when your Registered Dietitian can step in to help you identify what works and what doesn’t. The goal is to slowly ease you back into a healthy diet, keeping in mind your restrictions.
If you are trying to manage your IBS while also trying to lose weight, we can help. Click here to schedule a phone call to see if our program is right for you.
Nicole Goodrich has experience & training in a low-FODMAP diet, weight management, and wellness coaching! Schedule here.