It happens to all of us, we didn’t prepare to be out as long as we were, came home starving, ate the entirety of the cheese and meat drawer with no discrimination.
So you’re in a flare-up, now what?
Rule number 1: Stress makes IBS worse, panicking about the state of flare-up you are or are going to be in, is not going to fix the problem. In fact, it will make it worse.
Make yourself a cup of peppermint, ginger, or black tea to soothe your stomach. Caution: drinking anything too hot can be irritating to an already angry tummy, so let it cool off a bit.
Do some deep breathing exercises; and read Stress is Like a Rocking Chair for more tips on being zen during this flare-up.
Try the BRAT Diet
No, I’m not calling anybody names, the BRAT diet stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. It is what doctors recommend to those who are suffering from an inflamed stomach, say from an ulcer.
Although, I will admit, sometimes I can be a brat when I’m in a flare-up.
Caution – bananas and apples can be trigger foods, but these are usually bland enough to help rest your gut within safe limits. If you can normally handle yellow bananas (not too green, not too ripe), basically yellow, but no spots, go for it. Just no more than one in one sitting.
Green apples are usually okay within limits for us IBS sufferers, and a small, plain, applesauce cup would also be okay, but probably not with the banana in the same sitting.
White rice and brown Jasmine rice have been found to be the easiest to digest.
As far as toast, if you are gluten-free…by all means don’t go out and eat a loaf of bread. However, dry (no butter or spreads), gluten-free toast should help settle your stomach.
Whole wheat toast is a good source of soluble fiber if you suffer from diarrhea, given you can have gluten.
Liquids Give Your Belly a Rest
Sometimes, you just know you shouldn’t or can’t hold down any solid food.
When this is the case, bone broth or veggie broth (that are low FODMAP of course) are good options. The warmth alone might be a big help, just make sure it’s not too hot.
Vegetable purees (cooked, no raw veggies) that are safe will give you some bulk without overworking your unhappy gut.
And I’ll tell you my personal secret, a warm cup of water with about 1-2 Tbl of Apple Cider Vinegar. It sounds gross, but I promise it works…and once you get past the initial shock of drinking vinegar water…it kind of tastes good.
Plain Easy Protein
I’m not talking steak or a burger; but easy to digest, plain protein with no seasoning like chicken breast, salmon, or even the humble boiled egg would be a good option even on day 2 or 3.
Remember it can take up to 3 full days to fully digest something, and if something is flaring you up, especially if you suffer from constipation. Giving your gut a rest for a few days might be a good idea.
Your gut needs good bacteria all the time, but especially during a flare. Of course, you can get those in pill form, but you can also get them from foods.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product, made from cow, sheep, or goat’s milk. It is like a drinkable yogurt. In order to give your gut the best chance, make sure you drink it plain and unsweetened.
If lactose is a problem, try coconut kefir.
If you Suffer from Diarrhea
In addition to the tips above, if you are eating, eat small portions.
Blueberries are anti-inflammatory which you need right now, just stay within the fodmap guideline!
Try adding flax seeds to a smoothie to help slow things down.
You can make a smoothie with kefir and some safe fruits and veggies. I recommend not doing this until your gut has calmed a bit.
Add soluble fiber which will bulk up your stool, if you can handle gluten, try dry wheat toast, if not…go with oats or brown rice.
If you Suffer from Constipation
You need a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is like teetering on a balance board that is on top of a bowling ball.
Soluble fiber absorbs water in the bowel, mixes with fatty acids making the stool soft and easy to pass.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk and moisture making stool move faster and easier through the colon.
Soluble fiber would include: oats, blueberries, raspberries, chia seeds, flaxseeds, cucumbers, and carrots.
Insoluble fiber would include: brown rice, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and grapes. Remember, cooked veggies are less offensive to your gut during a flare-up.
Interestingly enough, kiwi has both types of fiber and is a wonderful “tool” for many who suffer from constipation. But no more than two kiwis in one serving is recommended.
Adding more sorbitol may help move everything along like prunes or prune juice. I’ve heard many people say warming the prune juice just a bit really works!
Last but not Least
Reduce your caffeine intake during the flare-up….I know, trust me, I know…but you’ll thank me later when you feel better.
Use a heating pad or take a warm bath.
Do some light exercise.
And pray, pray for the Lord to give you some relief. He never said our “walk” would be easy, but He did say He “would never leave us or forsake us”, Deuteronomy 31:6.
Blessings and peace be with you friend.