If you or someone you know has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you know that managing your symptoms is key to your overall health and well-being. Well-managed IBS, as opposed to uncontrolled IBS, can have a significant positive impact on your short-term and long-term health.
We all want to be and stay healthy – so, taking charge of your IBS, learning how to control it, and living a healthy life is your key to success.
But, what if you aren’t exactly sure how to manage it? What if you feel like you need more support?
This is where a nutrition coach comes in.
Nutrition coaches, like myself and my team at OnPoint Nutrition, are educated and trained to help you manage your IBS via diet and other healthy lifestyle practices.
In this article, I’ll outline the main goals for managing IBS:
- Improving your individual symptoms
- Preventing and treating potential complications
- Promoting balanced nutrition to optimize health
We’ll also dive into how a nutrition coach can help you achieve your IBS goals by addressing:
- What to eat
- Symptom tracking
- Lifestyle guidance
IBS Management Goals
Improve Your Individual Symptoms
IBS is generally associated with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms including cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation. The two main types of IBS include IBS-C, which tends toward constipation, and IBS-D, which tends toward diarrhea.
Everyone’s IBS is different, which means specific symptoms, frequency of symptoms, and severity of symptoms varies person to person.
The number one goal when managing IBS is to alleviate your specific symptoms, however, whenever, and wherever they present.
Prevent And Treat Potential Complications
If you suffer from IBS and you are constantly battling symptoms, your body is likely not at its nutritional peak. Constant GI issues can reduce the number of nutrients you are absorbing from your food, which is detrimental to your overall health.
Additionally, IBS is associated with poor quality of life. You may feel you miss out on personal or professional commitments because of your struggles with IBS.
IBS is also associated with mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, for similar reasons. To make matters worse, depression and anxiety can also make IBS symptoms worse, which may turn into a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of.
Managing your IBS symptoms and preventing these complications is another key to IBS management.
Promote Balanced Nutrition To Optimize Health
As mentioned above, IBS can harm your overall nutritional health.
While there are many eating patterns that are suggested to help manage IBS, working with a nutrition coach is key to finding the optimal nutritional balance for you.
Together, you and your nutrition coach will review your symptoms, eating habits, and overall lifestyle. Your nutrition coach will then thoroughly assess your nutritional status and develop a personalized nutrition plan just for you.
How A Nutrition Coach Can Help You Achieve Your IBS Goals
What To Eat
While everyone’s IBS is a little bit different, there are some general recommendations when it comes to which foods to eat and avoid for IBS management.
Your nutrition coach will likely recommend eating:
- Leans meats including chicken and fish
- Cooked vegetables, specifically non-cruciferous and low-FODMAP vegetables
- Skinless fruit, specifically low-FODMAP fruits
- Lactose-free dairy and hard cheeses
Your nutrition coach will likely recommend avoiding:
- Very high-fiber foods
- Gas-producing cruciferous vegetables
- High-fructose fresh fruits
- High-lactose dairy products
- Carbonated beverages
- Deep-fried and other high-fat foods
These general guidelines will help most people suffering from IBS. However, many individuals find they have their own personal triggers that may vary from those listed above.
Maybe you can tolerate some foods on the avoid list or need to avoid some foods on the recommended list, everyone’s IBS is different.
This is where your nutrition coach comes in. Your nutrition coach will help you figure out which foods to include in your diet and which foods to exclude from your diet to minimize your IBS symptoms.
One of the biggest game changers your nutrition coach will help you with is tracking your symptoms to connect them to your food choices.
Your nutrition coach will guide you through:
- Keeping a detailed list of the foods you eat
- Tracking all IBS symptoms
- Identifying patterns and drawing connections between foods and symptoms
Again, your IBS symptoms and triggers are personal to you. Connecting your unique dots is the first step in the management process.
After you have tracked your symptoms and started to draw some conclusions with your nutrition coach, you two will continue to work together to design an eating plan that allows you to avoid your triggers, while still eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and enjoying your life.
Food is clearly very important for managing IBS symptoms. However, it is not the only thing your nutrition coach can help you navigate.
Other holistic lifestyle factors including stress, hormones, and exercise greatly impact your IBS symptoms.
Stress is one of the biggest IBS triggers. Most people with IBS experience worse or more frequent GI symptoms when they are stressed.
Finding ways to manage stress can help alleviate your IBS issues.
Hormones also play a role in IBS. More specifically, most women often report worsening IBS symptoms during the menstrual phase of their cycle.
Exercise has proven beneficial for IBS management. Exercise may help improve stress and sleep, both of which help improve symptoms.
However, some exercises actually work to speed up or slow down your GI system so your nutrition coach can help you tailor your exercise routine to your IBS type.
Working with your nutrition coach to optimize all of these factors will help you achieve full control of your IBS.
Where To Go From Here
If you are ready to take control of your IBS symptoms, you are in the right place.
At this point, you know that improving your individual symptoms, preventing and treating complications, and promoting balanced nutrition to optimize health are the goals of working with a nutrition coach on IBS.
You also know that when you work with a nutrition coach you will learn what to eat, how to track symptoms, and how to adjust your lifestyle to improve your IBS.
If you’re not 100% sure if you have IBS or not, try taking our IBS Quiz to give you a little more insight.
If you are ready to dive into nutrition counseling with a nutrition coach, we are here for you.
Our team of dietitians and nutritionists has helped over 3,000 people, just like you, achieve their nutrition and health goals.
If you’re interested in finding out more about OnPoint and the experience we provide to our virtual, one-on-one nutrition counseling clients, learn more about our client experience here.
When you are ready to take the leap, schedule your free consultation.