About 1 in 7 people live with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If this is you, you’re not alone. IBS is more than just the odd tummy ache. It can be painful, debilitating, and challenging, especially when symptoms are all over the place. The thing about IBS is that there is no one cause, and it is never just about food. How you eat, sleep and manage life all impact your IBS and how well behaved it is. With this in mind, there are several non-food activities you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your quality of life and your IBS. In this blog post, we’ll explore seven practical and effective tips to help you manage IBS symptoms better.
1. Establish consistent meal time routines:
Our bodies thrive on routine, knowing what to anticipate and when. Maintaining a regular eating schedule can help to regulate your digestive system and minimize the occurrence of IBS flare-ups. Aim for regular well-balanced meals and snacks, chew your food thoroughly in a relaxed environment and make sure to enjoy your food. Avoid skipping meals or prolonged periods without eating. This consistent approach supports your body’s natural rhythms and reduces the chance of triggering unpleasant symptoms.
2. Drink Enough Water:
Staying well-hydrated is vital for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for individuals with IBS. Drinking enough water helps soften stools, making them easier to pass and reducing the likelihood of constipation. Additionally, it aids in maintaining overall digestive health and can even help alleviate bloating.
3. Get Enough Sleep:
Sleep is essential for overall well-being, and not surprisingly, it can significantly impact IBS symptoms. Poor sleep means increased cortisol, a more sensitive gut brain axis and amplified gut sensitivity. All this means more symptoms and more stress, not to mention that being tired makes everything harder to managed. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, limit screen time before sleep, and strive to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night to support your gut health.
4. Move Your Body:
Regular physical activity can do wonders for managing IBS symptoms. Exercise helps reduce stress, promote better digestion and lets your gut brain axis know that your body is in a safe place. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
5. Practice Mindfulness:
Stress can trigger IBS symptoms on its own. Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce stress levels. Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath, be present in the moment, acknowledge a “glimmer” and let go of tension.
6. Include a Non-Food Moment of Joy Each Day:
Happiness and laughter can be powerful allies in managing IBS. Engage in activities that bring you joy, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby, or simply taking time for yourself. Embracing moments of joy daily give you something to look forward to, can help alleviate stress and improve your overall well-being.
7. Ignore Your Symptoms:
This one is controversial but let me explain. While it’s essential to be mindful of your body’s signals, obsessing over IBS symptoms can amplify anxiety and stress. Instead of letting symptoms consume your thoughts, acknowledge them without judgment and continue with your daily activities. Distracting yourself with enjoyable tasks can help shift your focus away from discomfort.
As a dietitian with IBS, I’ve seen first-hand how non-food “tools” and a holistic approach can make a significant impact on IBS. Having an IBS “toolbox” that embraces a multi-faceted approach of food and non-food activities into your daily routine can significantly impact symptom management.
Ready to take charge of your IBS and improve your quality of life? Book an appointment with one of our specialist dietitians today. They’ll provide personalized guidance and support to help you manage your IBS symptoms effectively. Don’t let IBS hold you back; take the first step towards a healthier and happier you.