Smart eating habits can make your life a little easier when you have irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, or IBS-D. And you don't have to completely give up any foods you like.
"Moderation is important," says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) Guide to Better Digestion. It's important to stick to a balanced diet when you have IBS. So never totally avoid certain groups of food, or you may be depriving yourself of nutrients you need.
It's not entirely clear how stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome are related -- or which one comes first -- but studies show they can happen together.
When a doctor talks to people with this digestive disorder, "what you find is that about 60% of IBS patients will meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric disorders," says Edward Blanchard, PhD, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany.
The most common mental ailment people with irritable bowel syndrome...
Experiment with what you eat to find out what works for you Bonci says. "People could be selective with what they have, saying, 'OK, I'm no good with apples, but I'm alright with a pear. Or grapes don't work for me, but I'm OK with having a little bit of a banana.'"
Keep a symptom journal to track which foods and which amounts seem to give you diarrhea. It's the best way to figure out which eats might be causing you problems. Remember, different foods affect people differently.
You could also try an elimination diet -- if you think certain foods might be triggering your symptoms, stop eating them one at a time, and see how that makes you feel.
Get the Right Type of Fiber
Don't avoid it if you have diarrhea. It helps protect your body against heart disease and may have a role in guarding against cancer, so you definitely need it.
Simply eat more soluble fiber, rather than the insoluble kind, Bonci says. Soluble fiber stays in the gut longer, which helps the colon work normally. You can get it from foods such as:
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in things like:
Drink Plenty of Water
Shoot for six to eight 8-ounce glasses of plain H2O each day, but not always with meals.
"Water just makes everything run through a little more rapidly," Bonci says. She suggests you drink it an hour before or an hour after meals.