Let’s talk guts: Strategies to manage IBS

If you’re one of the more than five million Canadians who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you know it can be a real pain in the…you know where.

While there is no one-size-fits all approach to managing this chronic, gastrointestinal disorder, our PCN team of registered dietitians shares strategies that can help:

Intuitive eating

Eating consistently throughout the day and learning your body’s hunger and fullness cues can ease IBS symptoms. Each person is unique and what triggers symptoms in one person may not in someone else. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel to help determine which foods trigger symptoms. Common trigger foods can include high-fat foods, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and sweeteners. 

The brain-gut connection

Ever have “butterflies” in your stomach when you’re nervous? Or sick to your stomach when you’re stressed? Our minds and guts are connected. Improving your mental health and managing stress can help reduce IBS symptoms. Spend time outdoors, get daily exercise and try to connect with friends and family. If you find yourself struggling with mental health, there are free resources available through Alberta Primary Care Networks, including workshops and one-on-one appointments.

Low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet can help people manage symptoms of IBS by eliminating high FODMAP foods – foods that can be hard to digest – for two to six weeks. After this time, people can reintroduce these foods to determine if they contribute to or worsen symptoms.

The low FODMAP diet is a common approach to managing IBS symptoms, but PCN registered dietitians don’t recommend it as a first approach.

“The low FODMAP diet may be neither necessary nor appropriate for every patient, such as those with eating disorders, malnutrition, hectic lifestyles, limited food knowledge or preparation skills or other symptoms. There are often simpler strategies to help resolve symptoms without the need for a restrictive diet, " says Heather Kearney, PCN Registered Dietitian. 

Get the help you need

Our digestive system plays an important role in our overall health. You can access support for your digestive health through the PCN health team who works collaboratively with your family doctor. 

Visit www.albertapcns.ca for more information. 

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