Being Prepared Keeps Your IBS Symptoms in Control - dummies

Being Prepared Keeps Your IBS Symptoms in Control

By Carolyn Dean, L. Christine Wheeler

Now that you have IBS you can’t just grab any old munchies if you want to stave off an attack. A little preparation can help you avoid getting stuck without an appropriate way to satisfy your hunger.

Eating small portions is important for controlling IBS. As you prep and pack meals ahead of time, make sure you aren’t sabotaging yourself with portion size.

Preparation starts in the kitchen: Cook IBS-friendly meals in advance

Planning for eating on the go takes some time and dedication. The plan is that in just a short couple of hours a week, you can have days of dishes ready to go. So clear the family out of the kitchen, crank up your favorite music, and get started. Just remember that you’re setting this time aside to celebrate your healthy approach to food — and to living safely in the world.

Deciding what you’re going to eat for the week is a great start. Create a weekly menu and check your menu for recipes that you can make in multiples and store or freeze the extras to pack for work or school. Make sure the ingredients you need are on your shopping list.

Roast a large chicken on your cooking day and use the extra meat and vegetables to make a soup or stew that you can freeze for several meals to come.

Gather together the vegetables that you want to cut up. No matter what shape, size, or density, chopping piles of veggies all at once can be fun and therapeutic. After you’ve got them chopped, separate the veggies you want to blanch (to make them more digestible) and dip them in boiling water for the allotted time. You can cool and then freeze them in freezer baggies to grab when you go.

Keep a portable snack pack on hand

Copies of your safe food list are likely laminated and placed strategically around your home, office, and car (and if they aren’t, they should be).

Take a copy of your safe food list and assign numbers based on how safe those foods are for you: Put a 1 next to foods you know you can absolutely always eat safely, a 2 next to those foods that are usually very safe, and a 3 beside those foods that are safe but only under certain circumstances.

You always should have a supply of at least one of your number one safe foods on your person whenever you’re away from your own kitchen. For example, if applesauce is one of your top safe foods, buy small, sealed containers and keep a couple in your desk at work, a couple in your car (depending on the temperature outside), and a couple in your handbag, computer bag, or somewhere else handy.

That way, when hunger hits, you have safe food to eat immediately and won’t be tempted to grab a less-safe snack from the vending machine.

The following list details the foods that are easiest to pack and safest for IBS stomachs in general.

  • Applesauce: You can purchase individual containers of applesauce or make your own and store it in small containers.

  • Avocados: They come with their own container (a pretty durable shell), and you can slice them in half with a sharp knife, remove the pit, and eat them plain or with a teaspoon of lemon juice. If you’re a Vata constitution, you can even sprinkle in a few drops of a mild chili sauce.

  • Bananas: More great foods with their own baggies. Unripe bananas are suitable for IBS-C and ripe ones for IBS-D.

  • Barley: Bring some barley soup with you when you travel and cook it up when you can.

  • Beets: Mixing cut-up cooked beets with carrots, corn, some brown rice, and a bit of lemon and olive oil can make a great snack. Add some chestnuts, and you’ve got a gourmet meal. All these foods are high in soluble fiber and can be packed alone or in combination.

  • Currants, figs, raisins, and prunes: These dried fruits are great choices separately and together are a good combination for IBS-C. High in soluble fiber and stimulating to the intestines, they help to keep your bowels working when you’re traveling.

  • French bread and sourdough bread: A long stick of French bread is a great soluble-fiber food to add to any meal on the road. It can counteract insoluble fiber or fill a vacuum when you can’t find anything else safe to eat. Sourdough bread isn’t made from yeast, so it’s a good option for folks who may be following a yeast-free diet.

  • Oatmeal: This standby is the IBS traveler’s breakfast of choice.

  • Mangos and papayas: These fruits are high in soluble fiber, and papaya is high in enzymes, making it especially easy on the stomach. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and pit, and eat the goodness inside.

  • Parsnips: If you love parsnips, mix and match them with brown rice, yams, sweet potato, carrots, beets, turnips, squash, and pumpkins.

  • Peas: Put fresh peas in a container with some potato and yam for a great meal on the go; you can add a bit of olive oil and vinegar to help mix the flavors. All three vegetables are high in soluble fiber. If you’re into cooked peas, adding butter or ghee gives them a rich taste.

  • Psyllium seed husks: These bad boys may sound pretty intimidating, but they’re what you find in powdered fiber supplements like Metamucil. They’re a great soluble-fiber addition to your travel pack; a tablespoon or two a day when you travel helps regulate your bowels — take a tablespoon with 6 or 12 ounces of water for IBS-D and -C, respectively.

  • Quinoa: Rice and barley aren’t the only safe grains. Use cooked, cooled quinoa as a base for the safe soluble vegetables you can tolerate.

  • Rice: It’s generally safe for IBS-D and IBS-C, so you may want to have a small covered container of cooked brown rice as your personal portable soluble fiber.