I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). For me, this means stress and some foods cause me intestinal cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. I feel a lot of abdominal pain when I have flare ups with my IBS. It makes it difficult to stand, sleep and even just enjoy my day. I have noticed it negatively impact my mood, as well. I become short with people and quite argumentative.
To manage day to day stress I meditate and do yoga. However, it is hard for me to completely avoid or give up eating everything that causes me issues. I feel in order to 100% avoid them I would never be able to appreciate dinners with friends at their homes or out on the town. That said I do my best to avoid them as much as possible, even when I travel. It also helps if I eat in moderation by not continuing to eat beyond when I feel satiated or full. Birthdays, Holidays and a little too much happens though, so here are the main guidelines I follow to recover.
Get Right Back on the Horse
Overall, the best way I have found for myself to recover from an IBS flare up is to get back to eating right for my gut as soon as possible. If I continue eating all the foods I know cause me issues then it just becomes worse. I usually know when I may be eating foods that are bad for me and plan out proper meals for about 5 days after. It is also best to not beat myself up about what I did and just do what needs to be done.
This does not mean I am depriving myself, you can make meals that are flavorful, delicious and good for your gut. One of my favorite recovery meals is a tempeh rueben sandwich. YUM! It is loaded with beneficial microorganisms that are GREAT for your gut too!
I eat a lot of natural probiotic foods throughout the day on top of taking a probiotic supplement before bed each night. Some of my favorite probiotic foods are tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, unsweetened yogurt, and kombucha. I always have at least 2 of these in my refrigerator. My fastest recovery from a flare up came from every meal and snack containing natural probiotics so I know this works for me. The more often I have them the easier recovery is for me.
Note: In my last post I mentioned that I had an epic food day with my friend and the following day I had a Sesame Kale bowl for dinner with a pile of sauerkraut and tempeh.
Since stress is one of the triggers for IBS, I try to regularly take some time for myself. Even when things are busy, I schedule time for meditation and running to help alleviate anxiety. These two things help me out a lot, if something else helps you relax then do it!
Lately, I have noticed that I have developed habits I associated with relaxation, but they really cause me stress. I have become very into watching some YouTubers (family vloggers and beauty gurus), so much so that missing an “episode” stresses me out. It is not like I can not just watch later. However, it has been causing me anxiety to miss what was posted that day so this habit needs to end. Stress over something like that is NOT worth it.
When we travel it typically means eating out a lot and I love to enjoy the local food, which is often not the best option for my health. Before I travel, I look for hotels or AirBnBs with at least a refrigerator, if not a small kitchen. Then, I can stop by a grocery store my first day out of town to grab some food to eat breakfast in and bring my own snacks. A filling gut friendly breakfast helps me pace myself throughout the day as well. Sometimes I find I do not even need snacks since eating out tends to mean a lot more food, but it is great to have the option to bring leftovers back to my home away from home.
For example, my last trip to my hometown I knew I would be eating out for lunch and dinner most of the weekend to spend time with friends and family. I made a zucchini bread to bring with me for breakfast. I also stopped by the grocery store on my first day to pick up peaches and yogurt. I knew my mother had some unsweetened almond butter as well so for breakfast I had:
- 1 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 chopped peach
- 1 slice of whole grain, cinnamon zucchini bread broken up
- 1 T almond butter